French President Francois Hollande visited China.
French President Francois Hollande visited China.

BEIJING: The Chinese and French presidents announced on Monday they have agreed that a global climate change pact should require countries to increase their emissions cuts every five years, in an important signal four weeks before world leaders meet in Paris.

France is proposing the automatic updating of countries’ emissions targets in a climate deal to be thrashed out at a UN conference beginning at the end of November. The support of China, the world’s biggest emitter of climate-warming greenhouse gases, is significant.

“What we have just established here in this declaration is a likelihood that the Paris conference will succeed,” Francois Hollande said at a joint news conference with Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People, the seat of China’s legislature.

“That doesn’t mean that the Paris conference is definitely going to be a success, but the conditions for success have been laid down in Beijing on Monday,” Hollande said.

In the joint declaration, the two presidents also declared their intention to release their own national strategies to develop low-carbon economies by 2050 as soon as possible within the next five years.

Environmental campaign group Greenpeace called the statement “an incremental step forward” and said work still needs to be done to raise ambition before and during the Paris conference.

“After waving goodbye to President Hollande on Tuesday, Chinese leaders need to think hard about what more to bring to the table when they see him again in Paris at the end of this month,” Greenpeace China climate policy adviser Li Shuo said in a statement.

China has promised it will try to cap its rising emissions before 2030 as part of its national pledge ahead of the Paris conference. It has also seen a decline in coal consumption and has become a leader in renewable energy.

Hollande said Xi confirmed that he would attend the opening of the climate conference, which runs from November 30 through December 11.