international pact to limit global warming this century to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and to 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible, is not possible without more urgent efforts from China and the other major powers to reach carbon neutrality by around midcentury.

“The longer the delay, the harder it is to achieve those midcentury targets. It’s just math,” said Kelly Sims Gallagher, a professor at the Fletcher School of Tufts University who studies China’s climate policies. China’s plan, she said, “will not have the effect of injecting new momentum into the global climate negotiations.”

Mr. Xi has a political stake in the issues. He has promoted himself and China as guardians of an “ecological civilization” and has made cleaning China’s air, water and soil a basis for public appeal. When he announced China’s pledge last year to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, he also called for a “green recovery” from the Covid-19 pandemic.

China’s air pollution has eased markedly in recent years. Mr. Xi created environmental inspection teams to pressure officials usually fixated on economic and political goals. The inspectors flashed their teeth early this year when they issued strikingly blunt criticisms of the National Energy Administration, which helps oversee power plant approvals.

“Environmental protection has not been given the high priority it should be accorded,” the inspectors wrote in their report on the administration. They criticized the administration for letting coal power projects go ahead in eastern China, where stringent pollution limits are supposed to apply. In recent days, the environmental authorities also cracked down on steel makers in Tangshan, a northern industrial city, that were found breaking pollution curbs, including submitting fake data.

to the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm.

To transit away from coal, China must confront the costs of closing mines and plants, including the needs of millions of potentially displaced miners and other workers. Many coal-dependent regions and their workers seem unprepared for that possible shift.

“I’ve never thought about the coal mine shutting down, never thought about leaving,” Gui Lianjun, a 39-year old miner in Shenmu, a coal city in northwest China, said by telephone. He sounded nonplused when asked about the link between coal and global warming.

“The government close down a mine because of global warming? I don’t think that’s possible,” he said. “I’ve never heard of that reason.”

Liu Yi contributed research.

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