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David Fickling

China’s Backsliding Could Break the Planet

Promises of zero emissions by 2060 may be running into entrenched fossil-fuel interests. Xi Jinping must keep his word.

It’s getting harder to foresee zero emissions.

It’s getting harder to foresee zero emissions.

Photographer: Kevin Frayer/Getty

For all the euphoria that rightly greeted Chinese President Xi Jinping’s announcement in September of a peak in carbon emissions by 2030 and a decline to net zero by 2060, the promise of that declaration is at risk.

To see why, consider Xi’s follow-up speech to the international Climate Ambition Summit on Dec. 12. While reiterating his earlier promises and fleshing them out with some additional pledges,  it fell short on the most important point: How much China is prepared to spend decarbonizing its power system.