China’s push to be a climate leader | HT Editorial
There are many devils in the details, including what Beijing defines as carbon neutrality or peak emissions, but this could well be a major turning point in environmental historyUpdated: Sep 27, 2020, 19:09 IST
China’s recent declaration that it will aim to be carbon neutral by 2060 has created a stir. Chinese leader Xi Jinping declared his country would slightly better its Paris Accord pledge by reaching peak carbon emission before 2030. There are many devils in the details, including what Beijing defines as carbon neutrality or peak emissions, but this could well be a major turning point in environmental history. China produced 9.8 gigatonnes of carbon last year, a little less than the combined carbon emissions of the United States, European Union and India.
Mr Xi, not known for his environmental concern, will have multiple reasons for the announcement. One is to place China firmly in a global leadership role when it comes to climate. Mr Xi’s announcement will help boost a Chinese image much tarnished by its bullying neighbourhood policy — and its handling of the coronavirus epidemic, which originated in Wuhan. Another is to help boost China’s already considerable capabilities in green technologies such as electric vehicles, solar power plants and batteries. Green tech will determine manufacturing competitiveness in the coming decades.
India has not shirked its responsibility when it comes to climate. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been an outlier among other leaders in his commitment to decarbonising India. But China’s promise is a reminder that India can do more. The next economic stimulus should be infused with a more radical commitment to greening the power sector and a recognition that climate-friendly economics can be a large job creator.