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China's efforts to combat climate change: a worldwide impact

Amidst the global urgency to combat climate change, China has positioned itself as a key player in the transition towards sustainability. However, while the country has made significant strides in renewable energy and environmental policies, it is not without its challenges and criticisms.


China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), with 12.7 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent (CO2e) in 2019 and a 26 % share of global GHG emissions, compared to a 7 % share for the EU-27. China's consumption-based emissions, adjusted for international trade, are around 10 % lower.
China is the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), with 12.7 billion tonnes CO2 equivalent (CO2e) in 2019 and a 26 % share of global GHG emissions, compared to a 7 % share for the EU-27. China's consumption-based emissions, adjusted for international trade, are around 10 % lower.

As the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China faces immense pressure to address its carbon footprint. In 2020, the country made a pledge at the UN General Assembly to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and peak emissions by 2030. This commitment signaled China's recognition of the environmental crisis and its determination to take action. Yet, the reliance on coal and other fossil fuels as primary energy sources remains a major hurdle in its sustainability journey.


Critics argue that the Chinese government's focus on economic growth often takes precedence over environmental concerns. Despite the ambitious goals set forth, the implementation of sustainable practices has been slow, and some fear that economic interests may undermine the country's commitment to carbon reduction. Balancing economic development with environmental protection remains a critical challenge that China must address.


Furthermore, while the Chinese government has taken significant steps towards renewable energy, the private sector's engagement in sustainable practices is still a work in progress. Although a Deloitte report revealed that many businesses express concern about climate change and plan to enhance environmental sustainability, there is a need for stronger commitment and action. The transition to a green economy requires the collective effort of both the government and private sector to drive substantial change.


President Xi tells UN that China will be 'carbon neutral' by 2060
President Xi tells UN that China will be 'carbon neutral' by 2060, which has people saying the time frame is too stretched and exaggerated

In addition, China has faced criticism for its environmental impact on a global scale. As the manufacturing hub of the world, the country's industrial activities and supply chains have contributed to deforestation, pollution, and resource depletion in other countries. The export of carbon-intensive products has raised concerns about China's accountability and its role in exacerbating climate change beyond its borders.


Despite these challenges, there are encouraging signs of progress. Government incentives and subsidies have played a crucial role in promoting green industries, such as the electric vehicle market. Chinese companies are increasingly integrating environmental initiatives into their corporate identity, realizing the benefits of sustainability not only for their reputation but also for their bottom line. Customer and employee satisfaction, along with improved public image, have been observed as positive outcomes of environmental actions.


Chinese fossil industry

As China's population becomes more environmentally conscious, driven by awareness campaigns and the impact of climate change within the country, there is growing pressure for businesses to prioritize sustainability. The younger generation, in particular, is taking an active role in advocating for environmental action. This shift in consumer and employee expectations serves as both an opportunity and a challenge for companies that must adapt to remain relevant.


Looking ahead, China's commitment to carbon neutrality and the rapid growth of its green industry provide hope for a more sustainable future. However, overcoming the inherent challenges, including the transition away from fossil fuels and the need for stronger private sector engagement, will require continued effort and collaboration. China's journey towards sustainability is not without its critics, but with a concerted focus on environmental stewardship, the Middle Kingdom has the potential to lead by example and inspire change on a global scale





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