China’s climate 2060 commitments welcome

An example of an oil drilling rig

Last week, the BBC reported on a hydrogen powered train. It was a prototype that carried out a 25-mile journey, to demonstrate its power to the media. The train was capable of running for 100 miles on a full tank – which would take most of a day to fill up.

Inventors hope two things will be possible: that the train can be put into service – in Warwickshire – next year and that, first, the hydrogen units can be based under the train, rather than taking up a carriage.

The train uses hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, on non-electrified lines, as an alternative to diesel powered engines.

Hydrogen advancements, however, are insufficient to provide an alternative to coal, to make steal, said one report ahead of a planning hearing about a coal mine in Cumbria. Hence the approval once more of that coal mine, which would dig below the Irish sea.

This would reduce existing carbon emissions, because the UK wouldn’t have to import coal as a cost of thousands of tonnes of emissions. But it would still be digging up the planet to furnace steel.

Meanwhile, a super enzyme has been created to break down plastic bottles six times faster than before. This counters the problem that recycled plastic bottles are hard to break down into their consistent parts to rework as new bottles, so more oil needs to be used to create new ones.

Private enterprise has a huge role to play in saving our planet, whether that be removing pollution or inventing less carbon emitting ways of living.

However, perhaps the biggest news last week was overlooked, hidden in what was trumpeted as the week’s biggest climate news. Namely that China aims to become carbon neutral by 2060. While that was a hugely welcome announcement by the world’s biggest economy, responsible for 28% of carbon emissions globally, the really notable bit was as follows. They estimate their carbon emissions will peak before 2030.

The UK’s estimated carbon footprint fell 21% between 2007 (977 million tonnes) and 2017 (772 million tonnes) – the former seen as the peak.

That indicates that they know they can’t change instantly – and that their carbon emissions are still on an upward curve. However, they recognise they have a problem and want to reduce their emissions, which, at present, are more than those of Europe and the US combined. China will have to reduce emissions by 90%.

How much it has polluted so far – and the fact it will continue to pollute for the best part of a decade until it peaks – is mind blowing, considering other statistics. The nation has already made great strides, as a technology powerhouse.

Did you know, about half the world’s electric cars globally are in China? One of every three solar panels and wind turbines are in China. Its consumption and invention abilities have driven down the costs of renewable energies to compete with – maybe even soon beat – coal.

China, says one resident, is capable of being trusted to deliver on its targets. It has, she says, under promised and over delivered on climate change. Clearly with government backing, but through technological advance.

If the world’s biggest powerhouse can commit to cut its emissions this way, all our governments should have similar aims.