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Climate change: How China moved from leader to laggard

25 November 2019 | Mitigation

The subsidies for solar projects in China have fallen — running at 53 gigawatts in 2017 when demand seems to have peaked — will be about 40 per cent lower this year.

Chinese investment in clean energy is plummeting — down from $76bn during the first half of 2017, to $29bn during the first half of this year.

Concerns over the impact of climate change have never been higher. But the gap between what countries should be doing, and what they are actually doing — pumping rising levels of carbon dioxide into the air — has never been greater. With the US withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, an increasing amount of attention is on China.

The country is both the greenest in the world, but also the most polluting. It has more wind and solar power than anybody else, yet it is also the world’s biggest builder of new coal plants. Last year, its emissions hit a record high, accounting for more than half of the global increase in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2018, according to the International Energy Agency. This year, Chinese emissions are expected to grow about 3 per cent from 2018.

“Everything is at stake for the planet, because the Chinese economy is so much bigger than any other,” says Adair Turner, chair of the Energy Transitions Commission. “Even the whole of Europe is considerably less than Chinese emissions.”

He points to China’s current pledge, that its CO2 emissions will peak by 2030, and says it is nowhere near ambitious enough. “Let’s be clear, if that was all China ever did, then we are on the path to climate disaster,” says Lord Turner. “That is true of all the [countries’ that have made pledges under the Paris accord] . . . everyone has always known there would have to be very significant improvements, to get us anywhere close to 2C.”

 

Source: Finacial Times