US climate envoy John Kerry is in China ahead of next week’s climate summit hosted by US President Joe Biden. As tensions continue between the two countries over issues ranging from Taiwan to trade to the Internet, the Biden administration hopes that there is still room for cooperation on climate and efforts to cut emissions.
As part of a special series on climate in partnership with The Intelligence Project at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Cipher Brief Expert Kristen Wood It hosts a series of talks and views on the issue. This week, we’re focusing on China’s climate record and why Special Envoy Kerry cut short his work in Shanghai.
Today’s authors on China’s climate record are Martin Petersen and Mary McMahon.
Martin Petersen, Former Acting Executive Director, CIA
Cryptographer Martin Petersen He spent 33 years with the CIA, retiring in February 2005 as Deputy Executive Director and Acting Executive Director. During his career at the agency, he managed two large analytical units; Bureau of East Asia Analysis and Bureau of Latin American Analysis for the Asia-Pacific region, before becoming deputy director of intelligence for strategic plans and programs, first chief of human resources at the CIA, and deputy executive director.
Mary McMahonFormer Climate Change and Global Markets Analyst, CIA
Mary McMahon is a former analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency for Climate Change and Global Energy Markets. Ms. McMahon is currently completing her MA in Public Policy at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, with a focus on energy and climate policy.
Climate Series The People’s Republic of China is one of the largest contributors to global warming. Twenty eight percent Of all carbon dioxide emissions are produced in China, Beijing is the largest consumer of coal in the world. In fact, China Consume more charcoal In 2019, the rest of the world gathered together. Even more worrying is that China’s record is unlikely to improve drastically like Needs of the world Over the next decade, Beijing’s combination of climate action and its inaction will have consequences for the United States.
In United NIn September 2020, Secretary-General Xi Jinping announced China Revised goals To reach the peak of carbon dioxide emissions no later than 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060, noting that “all countries must take decisive steps to respect [the Paris] Agreement. “While this declaration – the primary goal of China’s neutrality – encouraged hope in the international community that the main impetus was preparing for more ambitious climate action, Beijing’s 14th Five-Year Plan Summary draft released in early March dashed many of those hopes. the plan Deceive On the climate action front and indicates the snail’s shift away from coal.
Under Xi, the People’s Republic of China is committed to becoming the largest economy in the world, and cheap energy is a critical variable in achieving this goal. Industry experts The project Fossil fuels will remain the main source of energy in China for the next 20 years, and account for 35 percent of its primary energy consumption in 2040 except for drastic changes in policy. In fact, Beijing has 88 gigawatts of new coal-fired power plants Under construction Now more than 158 gigawatts are in the planning stage – together those coal-fired plants are under development with sufficient total capacity Energy Germany.
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At the same time, China faces a number of dangerous potential consequences as a result of its energy policies. Air pollution is really major Problem In many Chinese cities. Cases of extreme heat and extreme rain increasing Not only by hesitation but in the areas it passes through. The summer of 2020 witnessed record rains and floods, especially in the central Yangtze River basin, with losses estimated by July to exceed $ 20 billion It affected more than 50 million Chinese. Some experts estimate that if emissions continue to rise, 45 million people will be affected by the extreme heat that will also cost up $ 1.5 trillion GDP equivalent by 2050.
Global warming also has the potential to have serious economic consequences for the People’s Republic of China. According to climate experts, Guangzhou and neighboring Dongguan and Shanghai are all at risk from sea level rise. These cities are vital economic centers of China, and one expert estimates that 348 billion dollars of China’s GDP and more than 7.8 million people are located in the regions. Threatened by sea level rise.
While floods pose a major threat to several regions, water scarcity amid a growing population, industry and thus demand is also a challenge for Chinese policymakers and is likely to be exacerbated by climate change. Northern China, which produces more than 35% of its wheat and 60% of its corn, is facing dilemma From being home to around 29% of China’s population but with less than 6.5% of the country’s water supply. Research found that water level In the region more than 6 billion tons every year during the past two decades. On a larger scale, about a fifth of China is considered Desert, With expansion Over the past half century they have occurred at a rate of nearly 1,300 square miles per year, bringing desertified regions closer to major cities like Beijing.
The impact of Beijing’s energy decisions is not limited to the People’s Republic of China. Most Major Asian rivers, Including the Mekong River and Brahmaputra, is rising in China. These rivers are essential to the economic health of Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Water and water security is expected to be a major source of international tension if not conflict in the coming years. India and China are already rivals, and tensions have increased along their borders over the past year.
The China Belt and Road Initiative, launched in 2013, includes several initiatives Infrastructure projects Which follows the ancient Silk Road and connects China and Central Asia with the Middle East and the West via a land and sea route. Designed to be completed by 2049, it has significant climate impacts as well as economic and political impacts. Ecologists cited coal and gas-fired power plants, deforestation along sections of the road, desertification, risks to endangered species, and water and air pollution. Such as Pioneer Interests. In 2020, China funded $ 4.6 billion in financing Foreign energy projects, Which while the sharp decline over the past several years still mostly goes to fossil fuel projects.
Xi and the leadership of the People’s Republic of China are aware of the importance of the climate issue in world politics. In the party 19The tenth National Senate In 2017, Xi said, “China occupies a prominent position in international cooperation in response to climate change, has become an important participant, contributor and torchbearer in the global endeavor of environmental civilization.”
Looking at these words in 2017 and the announcement by Xi in the fall of 2020, China’s actions have not matched Xi’s words yet. Beijing’s record of abiding by the speech, not to mention the spirit of the agreements it signed, is not in sterling, as Beijing’s crackdown in Hong Kong demonstrates. So far, China has devoted more of its energy to climate change optics, such as the adoption of the National strategy As for climate change adaptation in 2013, it needs to take important steps to implement it.
China made efforts To increase its share of clean energy, close old and inefficient industry factories, and protect its carbon-absorbing forests, but it still has significant obstacles to step up its climate action. The thing is that without increasingly stringent mitigation measures from China, emissions will continue to rise and worsen the global climate crisis, and with it the grave threats facing the United States. However, the United States must remain cautious, as China continues its clean energy efforts not only at home but abroad, as Beijing’s stated commitment to developing clean energy continues to enable it to form more strategic partnerships around the world and expand soft power. For China, the leadership in the next-generation energy space, the potential economic impact.
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