Climate Change Pressure Drives China's Efforts in Transformation
geopolitical frictions have intensified significantly, with the United States
and China moving towards a complete decoupling with ever intensifying confrontations.
On the top of this, the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted countries around
the world. Under such circumstances, is global climate change still a
significant issue? Many people would think that climate change is merely a
problem to be focused on during the peacetime. With globalization close to
falling apart, the global climate problem appears to be a trivial issue in such
a trying time.
However, researchers at
ANBOUND believe that once the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic begins to ease,
the global climate change issue may soon return to the international political
arena and become a highlighted multifaceted matter. It should be pointed out
that in the new round of international cooperation and competition on global
climate issue, China will receive more international attention, and it will be
expected to assume more international responsibilities by making greater
contributions. Taking into account the external environment the country is
currently facing, China may also encounter new international challenges on the
issue of climate change.
One reason is that the climate
change problem is still worsening. The World Meteorological Organization has
pointed out in a recent report that "climate change has not stopped for
COVID-19". This spring, as many countries imposed strict restrictions on
travel, social interactions and commuting to slow down the spread of the
coronavirus, the flow of people has stopped abruptly. As a result, emissions
during the peak period of the lockdown in April fell by 17% compared with the
same period last year. Although this decline was unprecedented in scale, it was
not enough to weaken the trajectory of global warming, not to mention that its
effect was short lived. According to the monitoring of the World Meteorological
Organization, by the beginning of June, daily carbon dioxide emissions had
fallen by less than 5% from 2019 levels; yet by the end of June, passenger car
traffic in the United States had rebounded to the same level as 2019.
Another important reason that
China cannot avoid responsibility is that it emits the most greenhouse gases. In
the article "The Great Disrupter" published in the Economist
(September 17, 2020), China is touted as the "biggest polluter." This
criticism is based on the fact that China is the world's largest emitter of
greenhouse gases. In 2018, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the world's greenhouse
gas emissions were approximately 55 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
According to data from the World Resources Institute, in the composition of
global greenhouse gas emissions, buildings (17%) and road transportation (12%)
account for the largest proportions, while the shipping and air transportation
account for 2%. In the industrial sector, the steel industry accounts for 8%,
the chemical and petrochemical industries account for 6%, and the cement
industry accounts for 3%. By country, China is the largest emitter of
greenhouse gases, accounting for approximately 25% of global emissions; the
United States is second with 12%; while the European Union and India each
account for 7%. Overall, the 20 most-emitting countries in the world produce
approximately 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
In terms of emissions, China
has an inescapable responsibility for global climate change. Judging from
China's economic trends, industrial structure, and development stages, it is
certain that China's share of global greenhouse gas emissions will continue to
increase, and this continuous increase process will last at least until 2030
(i.e. the peak emission year as estimated by China). With the increasing impact
of climate change, global attention to this issue will continue to heighten,
and more and more international attention will be focused on China. In fact,
the international community has long realized that China's participation in
global climate and environmental issues is extremely important, because China,
whether as a "polluter" or as an "improver", has the
greatest impact on global environmental issues.
Chinese policymakers have
realized the importance of this issue. President Xi Jinping proposed at the UN
General Assembly on September 22 that countries should promote a "green
recovery" of the world economy after the COVID-19 pandemic. Xi also
promised that China will adopt improved policies and measures to reach the peak
of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030, as well as strive to achieve carbon
neutrality by 2060. Although China's proposed carbon neutral time is 10 years
later than the global carbon neutral time proposed by the United Nations
Climate Change Conference (the UN proposed the year 2050), the international
community has positive expectations of China's participation in climate issues
and believes that China's statement at the UN General Assembly is of great
significance. If China can fulfill its promises, it will be vital in the global
response to climate change.
It is also worth noting that
in his speech at the UN General Assembly meeting on the same day, U.S.
President Donald Trump accused China of dumping huge amounts of garbage into
the ocean every year, and that China's carbon emissions are twice that of the
United States. It is clear that Trump is not concerned about climate issues when
he insisted on withdrawing from the Paris Agreement. If Joe Biden wins the U.S.
election in the future, the United States may resume its accession to the Paris
Agreement. If that happens, the U.S. will have a greater involvement in climate
issues, which may also increase accusations and pressures on China.
Therefore, China must take
proactive measures on the global climate issue, otherwise it will become the
accused in this rare multilateral issue.
ANBOUND's researchers believe
that for its next step, China will transform the pressure on global climate
change into domestic policy actions. While developing its own economy, China
will simultaneously continue to emphasize industrial transformation and upgrading,
environmental protection, reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as striving
to find a balance between the environment and the economy. This adjustment may
be a long-term strategy and it will pose a major challenge to China's future
choice of industrial development path and economic development model. China
will certainly not encourage the development of certain high-carbon industries
(such as coal-fired power plants, chemical industries), but instead will
encourage the development of certain low-carbon or clean industries (such as
new energy, low-energy-consuming technology industries, etc.). It is therefore
particularly important for China to find areas of development that not only
meet environmental protection requirements, but also reflect technological
innovation, and at the same time able to promote economic growth.
It is actually not difficult
to find such a field. The "Hydrogen Energy Society" advocated by
ANBOUND in recent years is a strategic area with a tripartite balance function.
In our vision, the hydrogen energy society is a strategic starting point and a
complex system that covers basic research, technological innovation,
manufacturing, consumer environment, infrastructure facilities, public
policies, financial support, energy security and other fields. If China can adhere
to this strategic direction and continue to advance, it will be of great
significance to the country's future sustainable development. Its role is not
only to promote hydrogen fuel vehicles or to develop the hydrogen energy
industry, but to build a new system in China that integrates
Final analysis conclusion:
The issue of global climate change will soon return to an important
position on the global stage, and China is destined to become the focus of this
multilateral cooperation arena. Hence, China needs to take precautions and make
arrangements in this regard as soon as possible. In addition to being a
responsible and active participant, China should also maintain transparency,
and combine economic-industrial upgrading in the construction of a consumer
society to build a hydrogen energy society.
Contact ANBOUND Malaysia Office at : Suite 25.5, Level 25, Menara AIA Sentral, 30 Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur
TEL : +60 3-21413678 Email : email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org