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China’s 2060 carbon neutral pledge is a big deal but is it big enough?

Chinese president Xi Jinping addresses the United Nations general assembly on 22 September

Ju Peng/Xinhua/PA Images

China surprised the world yesterday when president Xi Jinping told the United Nations general assembly that the country would “achieve carbon neutrality before 2060”.

Until now, 2020 has been an underwhelming year for action on climate change, with a major UN climate summit postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and only 13 countries putting forward a stronger carbon pledge, as required by 2015’s Paris agreement. China’s new promise of long-term climate ambition is a shining bright spot, and significant for two big …