China plans to put an absolute cap on its CO2 emissions starting in 2016, the chairman of China's Advisory Committee on Climate Change told a conference in Beijing yesterday, a potentially massive development given that China is the world's top emitter. "The government will use two ways to control CO2 emissions in the next five-year plan, by intensity, and an absolute cap," He Jiankun said, according to Climate Action Programme. That plan kicks off in 2016. Until now, China has pegged emission targets to economic growth.
The country's emissions are likely to keep on rising until 2030, peaking at about 11 billion tons, He tells Reuters, but the absolute cap will mean that they are more tightly regulated. The announcement, coming on the heels of the steps the US—the world's second-biggest emitter—announced yesterday, has sent a surge of optimism through UN climate talks. "The Chinese announcement marks potentially the most important turning point in the global scene on climate change for a decade," one professor of energy policy said.