Critics should stop accusing China of instigating merely superficial greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Unlike some developed nations that evade responsibility and just talk the talk, China has been taking real actions to slow global warming.
As one of the world’s largest emitters and its second-largest economy, China’s commitment to curbing emissions has come into focus once again as UN climate talks are gathering nations in Doha, Qatar, to try to reach a consensus on how to move forward with climate targets.
China is resolute in reducing emissions as shouldering its due responsibility in the matter is not only a commitment to the world but also a must for its own development.
Chinese authorities have long realized a green and low-carbon path will be the only choice for the nation’s sustainable development, given its large population, limited resources and vulnerable environment.
For this reason, China has been striving to avoid the strategy of many Western countries that opted to “pollute first and clean up later” during their early stage of industrialization.
Although China’s emissions are rising and may continue to rise until its urbanization peaks, the country has policies in place to limit emissions and is taking steps to boost its renewable energy industries, force power generators to clean up their coal plants and use more clean energy.
China has made a commitment to cut its carbon intensity — the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of GDP — by 40 to 45 percent from the level of 2005 by 2020.
Despite its dependence on coal, the country now has one of the world’s leading green industries.
Last year, China more than doubled its solar power generating capacity and increased wind and hydropower capacities. Its current five-year plan includes ambitions to increase the proportion of energy from non-fossil fuels to 11.4 percent by 2015.
Between 2006 and 2010, Chinese aggregate energy consumption per unit of GDP dropped 19.1 percent from that of 2005, which is equivalent to a reduction of 1.46 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
China is playing a constructive role in pushing forward climate negotiations while doing its bit to keep emissions within targets. Yet it is unfair and unreasonable to hold China to absolute cuts in emissions at the present stage.
It is still a developing nation under rapid urbanization and with 128 million members of its population under a poverty line of living on one U.S. dollar or less per day. Slowing global warming is an urgent task but it must not sacrifice room for further development.
Developed nations that produced most of the heat-trapping greenhouse gases should bear the costs of fixing the problem.