The case for more ambitious targets from Australia continues to build as China proposes stronger action.

“China, the world’s biggest polluter, is proposing to set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions as early as 2016 in a move that is being hailed as a potentially transformative step in the fight against climate change.

According to news reports from China, the powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has proposed setting absolute caps that would divorce the growth on emissions from growth in the economy, and will also set a peak in its overall emissions in 2025, five years earlier than planned.

China has already pledged to cut its emissions intensity – the amount of Co2 it emits per economic unit – by up to 45 per cent by 2020. The significance of an absolute cap is that it promises to reign in emissions even if the economy grows faster than expected.

Furthermore, Point Carbon reports, at a recent NDRC meeting, its vice director Xie Zhenhua said China should set long-term emission targets for 2030 and 2050 in a bid to decarbonise its economy. China, like Australia is heavily dependent on carbon-intensive coal to generate electricity – just over 82 per cent. But it has also proposed a cap on coal consumption of 4 billion tonnes.

Lord Nicholas Stern, the chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, described it as “exciting news”, and said it should encourage all countries, the US in particular, to take stronger action.

“And it improves the prospects for a strong international treaty being agreed at the United Nations climate change summit in 2015,” he told The Independent in the UK.

Of course, the move has major implications for Australia …”

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