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In the fight against climate change, China is doing more than you think – but still not enough
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In the fight against climate change, China is doing more than you think – but still not enough

A man in a hardhat stands under three large solar panels


China is the most important nation when it comes to climate change. China is the world’s largest consumer of coal and the top emitter of greenhouse gasses, accounting for over 80%. nearly 30%Global emissions

China must take immediate steps to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Otherwise, there is no way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Paris climate agreement aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 F), or even the less ambitious target of “well below 2 C” (3.6 F).

What is China doing in order to help the world avoid the worst effects from climate change? And is it doing enough?

China’s record is mixed. China’s record on climate change has been mixed over the past year. It has indicated that it will continue to make modest, incremental contributions to combating climate change. This is not the best approach to achieving the Paris goals. However, China has indicated that it will continue to make modest, incremental contributions to combat climate change. This is not the best approach for achieving the Paris goals. expert in environmental diplomacy who has followed China’s actions for years, I see reasons to think China might increase its efforts in the coming years.

China’s measured approach to climate change

It is common to believe that China does not have climate policies or fails in their implementation. China has a solid set of climate and energy policies, and a strong track record in fulfilling its international commitments.

Driven by a desire for excellence reduce air pollution, enhance energy security and dominate the industries of the future, China has been the world’s leading investor in renewable energySince 2013, it has been buying raw materials that these industries need. such as cobalt mines in Africa. It has three timesContinue reading renewable energy capacityIt is more than any other country and electric vehicle use has been on the rise. As of 2019, approximately half the world’s electric vehicles 98% of electric busesWe were in China.

Overall, China achievedNineteen of the 15 quantitative targets included in its 2015 climate commitments were achieved ahead of schedule. Over the past decade coal has dropped from 70% to 57% of its energy use.

China’s President Xi Jinping declared September 2021 that China was ready to take over the world. will stop financing overseas coal power plants. This could lead to the cancellation or reduction of a lot of the 65 gigawatts of coal power plants it had planned in AsiaThis is three times the annual emission of Bangladesh. China, unlike the U.S.A, has also established a national emissions trading systemEven though the electricity sector has no hard cap on its emissions, it does have a hard cap.

When it comes to China’s approach to climate change, the problem is not lack of policy implementation but rather a lack of policy ambition. China’s climate policies are admirable for a middle-income country that only recently escaped the ranks of the poor, but, like most of the world’s nations, it is still not doing enough.

This is evident both in China’s revised commitments presented at the U.N. climate summitIn Glasgow, November 2021, and in its current Five Year Plan (2021-2025). Both are incremental improvements that will make it difficult for global warming to stay below 2 C.

China, for instance, aims to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2060. These soft targets are indicative that China has a tendency in international negotiations not to make enough promises so it can overdeliver. China will need a cap on its emissions and a forward date for peak emissions to comply with the Paris Agreement.

Current policy and recent history have also raised concerns that China’s coal use will not decline fast enough over the 2020s to achieve the 1.5 C target.

China has responded to an energy shortage or economic slowdown three times in the last four years by allowing coal production to rise and allowing for increased consumption. In 2020, China added nearly 40 gigawatts of coal capacity, roughly equaling the entire amount. coal fleet of Germany, the world’s fourth-largest industrial power.

Reasons to be cautiously optimistic

China still has a chance to make a greater contribution to the fight against climate changes.

It is worth noting China is still developing policies that will guide its approach towards climate change over the next ten-years. It has. released two overarching documentsTo achieve carbon neutrality and a peak emissions in 2030. It intends to release the following information over the next year. 30 sector- and province-specificDocuments to guide industries like steel, cement, and transportation.

A man in a hardhat stands under three large solar panels
Most solar manufacturing is done in China and the country is a leader when it comes to installations.
Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Two important developments in Glasgow could also encourage China to do even more.

First, a large number of countries have increased their climate promises, which has increased pressure on China.

More than 100 countries pledged to cut emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, by 30% by 2030. India pledged that it would reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2070It also indicated that it would be able to get half of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, which is more important. Multicountry pledges were also made to end deforestation and eliminate coal. cut international funding for fossil fuels.

Like any country, China’s climate actions are driven primarily by domestic political considerations. However, over the past three decades Chinese policy has responded to – and been shaped by – external forces including diplomacy, advocacy and scientific exchange.

Developing countries, in particular, can influence China’s approach to climate change. China has always been seen as a leader in the development world and is sensitive about its international image. This can make it difficult for Beijing resist pressure from other countries. The fact that several countries such as India, Indonesia and VietnamBeijing may be motivated to adopt more aggressive targets for reducing its emissions if they make bolder than anticipated pledges at Glasgow.

The second important development is that the United States of America and China reached a much-needed thaw at Glasgow, which laid the foundation for future cooperation.

US and Chinese negotiators walk down a hall with reporters behind them.
China’s lead climate negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, and U.S. climate official John Kerry announced an agreement to work together toward net-zero emissions.
AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali

There is some debate over whether the climate benefits more from Sino American. competitionOr cooperationThere was concern that China and the U.S. might become hostile.

It was therefore a relief that the U.S. and China released their abridged statements at the summit. joint declarationThey shared a commitment to combating the effects of climate change.

They agreed to establish a “working group on enhancing climate action in the 2020s” and to meet early in 2022 to address methane emissions. China also indicated that it would publish a national action plan on methane. This is significant, as China did not sign the Global Methane Pledge and has not traditionally included noncarbon greenhouse gases – about 18% of China’s total emissions – in its commitments.

Is it possible that China will be persuaded by the U.S. and China cooperation? The future will only be known, but Glasgow could have been the point where China and the rest choose a more sustainable path.

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