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Special Edition Magazine, Fall 2020: The Green Recovery

English

China’s Inevitable Low-Carbon Future

China's leaders are increasingly recognizing that policies to reduce emissions align seamlessly with their goal of a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” as articulated by President Xi Jinping in 2012, and again at the United Nations this year. In fact, achieving the so-called China dream may well make a low-carbon future the most likely scenario.

BEIJING – At this year’s United Nations General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping generated headlines with an announcement that China would become carbon neutral by 2060.

Yet as extraordinary as this commitment may seem to outsiders, it is no surprise to those in China climate-policy circles. Quietly, government and industry leaders have been discussing carbon neutrality idea in earnest. As recently as January of this year, a group of senior Chinese officials and executives representing 28 influential industry associations gathered at an energy-investment conference in Beijing, where they produced a proclamation titled “Zero-Carbon China.” With a novel coronavirus beginning to spread and claim a rapidly growing number of lives, the event went largely unnoticed. But that doesn’t change China’s low-carbon trajectory.

For many of China’s leaders, the idea of acting more aggressively to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is no longer controversial. On the contrary, they are increasingly recognizing that such action aligns seamlessly with their goal of a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,” as articulated by President Xi Jinping in 2012. In fact, achieving the so-called China dream may well make a low-carbon future inevitable.

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