China is responsible for 28 per cent or a quarter of the total global carbon emissions. It is the highest carbon emitter in the world, emitting 10 GT of CO2 in 2018. The United States followed at 5.42GT in the same year (Each country’s share, 2020).
In September 2020, China’s President Xi Jinping announced that it would strengthen its nationally determined contribution (NDC), achieve peak emissions before 2030, and carbon neutrality by 2060. The country’s Covid-19 response contains some green recovery elements. However, it has yet come up with policies and clear directions that reflect a low-carbon trajectory the climate action tracker article says (China, 2020).
So far, Climate Action Tracker gives a “highly insufficient” rating to China’s NDC – which falls outside of its “fair share range to reduce emissions, and if all governments follow the same approach as China, warming will be between 3 to 4 C, the article adds (China, 2020).
A study in 2016 examined China’s climate adaptation and mitigation strategies with a series of its current climate policies and actions plans, a background. Since the conclusion of the 2014 Paris Climate Summit in New York, “China has been actively advancing its national policies on climate change mitigation and adaption” in anticipation of more extreme weather events. The challenge is how to balance its economic growth while keeping their CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions in check.
The study says that it is difficult to understand China’s climate change policies as “they are not only related to the issues of national image, domestic and foreign policy, transnational cooperation, energy cost and economic growth but also motivated or driven by other factors such as ecological protection, growing public awareness and civil society’s attitude.”
The study further argues that “since the priority of economic growth is set by the central government, and the multi-layer inter-governmental bureaucratic structure strictly follows China’s top-down political system, it is very difficult to examine the performance of those adaption plans and strategies. The study adds, that “it is also hard to tell whether or not they can be followed and practised in reality at the city level because there is no specialised legislation and implementation mechanism to supervise and guarantee the performance of the climate change actions in China.”
The paper “concludes and highlights that there are three urgent needs in a country’s response to climate change: 1) an available, accessible and standard urban database for cities in China; 2) cross-disciplinary collaboration and impact assessment; and 3) a market and policy transformation mechanism.”
China has yet to show results of its climate policies through the implementation of climate adaptation strategies, transitions to clean and renewable energy, and most importantly reductions of its carbon emissions which can significantly contribute to the prevention of climate change.
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