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China will act on the environment or is it a hollow slogan? | Environment

China will act on the environment or is it a hollow slogan? | Environment

Residential tower blocks in Beijing.

China hosted the opening of the UN’s first major environmental conference this week. Cop15 in Kunming. It might seem odd that the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter and largest user of natural resources would host talks to stop the destruction and mass extinctions in ecosystems. But the conference marks an important turning point in Chinas development as well as an international debut for ecological civilization, a phrase that is not widely known outside China, with huge implications for the planet.

The environmental slogan is at heart of a potential misunderstanding between China, the west, and China amid uncertainty over whether President Xi Jinping will attend crucial climate talks at Cop26 in Glasgow. Some commentators suggested that Xis’ reported absence was proof that China has reverted back to type. This is an example of world leaders who talk but don’t do and have so offended the Queen. Others point out that Xi who has not visited China since last January, when he didn’t attend the UN General Assembly in New York, nor did he travel to Kunming for this week’s Cop15 summit, was clear about his guiding principles regarding the environment.

Xi said that the development and maintenance of an ecological civilisation will be our guide in coordinating the relationship between nature and man. This was his keynote speech at Cop15 in the southern province Yunnan on Tuesday. He also announced a $233m (170m ) fund to help protect biodiversity in developing countries. The second phase of Cop15 will see governments reach a Paris-style UN deal for nature next year. They will agree on targets to reduce pollution, stop the spread of invasive animals and increase protected areas.

Residential tower blocks in Beijing.
Beijing’s residential tower blocks. China’s rapid economic growth has come at a high cost to nature in recent years. Photograph: Greg Baker/AFP/Getty

Xi stressed the importance to live within planetary boundaries, build a green, circular economy, and solve problems caused by industrialisation. In his remarks to delegates, Vladimir Putin (Russia’s president) also mentioned an ecological civilisation. Prince Charles, who has also hinted at it in his remarks to delegates, paid tribute to the intimate understanding and support of nature that has shaped Chinese civilisation over thousands of years.

But what does ecological civilization mean for China, the world, and the planet? Experts say it is the slogan that China uses to promote environmental sustainability and end four decades of rapid economic development at great cost to the environment. It includes Beijing’s 2060 carbon-neutrality goal, commitment to reaching peak emissions by 2030, and decision to end foreign financing of coal-fired plants. But it also covers traditional medicine as well as hydropower dams and farming techniques. Xi Jinping Thought, China’s president’s political ideology, has enshrined ecological civilisation alongside Mao Zedong Thoughts and Deng Xiaoping Theory within the Chinese Communist Partys constitution.

Books by Xi Jinping on sale at the Cop15 summit in Kunming this week.
Cop15 is selling books by Xi Jinping this week The Chinese Communist Party now ranks the president’s policies alongside Mao Zedong Thought. Photograph: AFP/Getty

It began in 2017, when Xi Jinping introduced ecological civilisation into his party charter, according to Dr Yu Jie of the London-based Chatham House thinktank. It demonstrates the immense importance of a policy centered on environmental protection. His term will be centered on sustainable development. Over the past few decades, ecological civilisation has been largely a matter of words and very few actions on the international stage. However, the Chinese announcement regarding the abolition of funding for coal-fired plant is a positive sign. [abroad]This is part of the change that is emerging.

China has an opportunity to bring ecological civilisation on the international stage by opening Cop15, which has been delayed repeatedly. The US is not part of the UN climate negotiations, as they are not parties to it. Convention on BiodiversityChina is able to set the agenda more easily. A declarationThis week, more than 100 environment ministers backed the Ecological Civilisation: Building A Shared Future For All Life on Earth banner at the top. This is a sign that Beijing wants a positive impact on climate and biodiversity talks.

Many western policy analysts believe climate diplomacy could be an area where the US and China can work together. Yu cautions that, in reality, I don’t believe so. China will play a greater role in international environment governance. Beijing will push harder for the rest of the world to adopt their environmental agenda.

Xi frequently cites Chinese phrases that are difficult to translate into English, such as green mountains being gold mountains or silver mountains. This is to emphasize the importance and importance of a healthy ecosystem for economic development. In Chinese state media, another phrase, Building a Beautiful China has appeared in the last few years. This suggests that there is a top-level push for a similar goal.

View of mountains in Shennongjia, a world heritage site in Hubei province.
Shennongjia in Hubei province is a world heritage site. Xi uses the slogan, “Green mountains are silver mountains and gold mountains”, to emphasize the importance environment for economic development. Photograph: Sipa Asia/Rex/Shutterstock

Since Xi first used this phrase, a flurry have been issued from the central government and reforms have been implemented. China’s first national parks will be established by Beijing, Beijing announced Tuesday. According to state media, the protected land area covers 89,000 square miles (230,000 km2), and nearly 30% of all the major terrestrial wildlife species found in China.

Ma Jun, a Beijing-based environmentalist and former investigative journalist, says that Chinese media are full of phrases that highlight ecological civilisation. His writings on pollution helped to spark an environmental awakening in China during the 2000s. His book. Chinas Water CrisisPublications in China and the west in 2004 described the suffering of communities affected by pollution. This was largely accepted as part of economic development.

He stated that the Chinese are becoming more wealthy and want a safe and secure environment. We are entering a new era in human development. The Industrial Revolution gave man all the power to conquer and transform nature. This new civilisation requires us to live in harmony and with nature. All of these elements are part of a larger community: mountains, rivers, forests and farmland as well as lakes, wetlands, wetlands, and grasslands. We must tackle pollution of soil, air, and water in order to create an ecological civilisation.

China is becoming more prosperous and its citizens expect their environment to be protected. It is also rewriting social contracts between the rulers, and the ruled. People are angered by reports of water pollution and air pollution, and then they turn to social media to complain.

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A profusion of plants cover balconies in a residential block in Chengdu, Sichuan province.
A residential block in Chengdu, Sichua. While environmentalism is a key component of Chinese policy, coal and gas imports from China have risen. Photograph: AFP/Getty

Despite the fact that the phrase is so popular in China, some people believe that ecological civilisation has become a triumph of style over substance with respect to the environment.

Experts believe that China’s decisions over the next decade will determine the success of international climate and nature agreements. China’s natural gas and coal imports are on the rise amid an energy crisis. Beijing has not yet joined the growing movement of countries vowing to protect 30% land and sea by 2030 (the 30-x30 initiative), led by France and Costa Rica. Recently, India was added to its ranks.

It presents a dilemma to China’s policymakers. Regardless of what the final definition of ecological civilization is, Xi has made this the core of Beijing’s action in the environment.

As he ended his speech on Tuesday, he stated that ecological civilisation is the development trend in human civilisation. Let us all join forces and embrace the philosophy of ecological civilization, and take responsibility for future generations.

Follow biodiversity reporters to get more coverage on the age of extinction Phoebe WestonAnd Patrick GreenfieldFollow us on Twitter to get the most recent news and features

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