Tuesday, September 17, 2019

China Is Doing a Lot Better on Climate Action than Most People Realize

Chinese Road (Picture Credit: Government of China) Click to Enlarge.
The first is that the air was clean and the sky was blue.  While my friend was there during the cleaner air summer rather than the winter when the air quality is typically at its worst, the improvement in air quality in Chinese cities has been extraordinary over the past decade.

The second was that the streets were incredibly quiet, much quieter than the streets of Vancouver outside the coffee shop we were in as he told me about his trip.  It wasn’t that the streets were empty.  Quite the opposite.  They were packed with cars and people.  But virtually all the vehicles were electric. No engine noise. No diesel trucks rumbling past.  No motorcycles revving.  Just tire noise, which at the lower speeds typical to city streets is very quiet.

So clean air and quiet streets in the capital of China, a city of almost 22 million people.  And that’s true of most other major Chinese cities as well.  But a lot of people’s perspectives on China are stuck in the past, on this subject as on many others.

Right now, the US is embroiled in a trade war with China, with President Trump frequently attacking China.  Infamously, he tweeted that “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.”  One of the key arguments many climate change deniers return to over and over again, when all of their other arguments are rapidly debunked, is that it doesn’t matter what the US does because China is the largest emitter of CO2 in the world and is still opening up coal plants.

And that’s not just a Republican or climate change denier talking point.  Joe Biden’s climate change action plan spends most of its foreign policy section pointing fingers at China, from its Belt and Road Initiative to its coal subsidies.
But there’s another story on China, one consistent with my friend’s observations, and one that’s not being told in its entirety or understood in the west.  China is likely on track to achieve its (relatively light) emissions targets a decade early.  It’s bending the curve on emissions faster than any country in history, just as it ramped them up faster than any country in history.

Read more at China Is Doing a Lot Better on Climate Action than Most People Realize

No comments:

Post a Comment