China actively tackles climate change at home and abroad

By Sheng Chuyi (People's Daily Online) 14:15, December 18, 2023

As a Chinese poem says, "Heaven does not speak, yet it alternates the four seasons; Earth does not speak, yet it nurtures all things." Throughout history, the Chinese people have harbored deep reverence for nature, striving for harmonious coexistence between humans and the natural world.

However, the pursuit of material wealth and rapid development has come at the cost of intensified exploitation of natural resources, leading to frequent extreme weather events, biodiversity loss, and worsening desertification.

Climate change, the defining crisis of our time, presents pressing and formidable challenges worldwide. No country is immune to this crisis. In response, China has proactively addressed climate change both domestically and internationally, shouldering its responsibilities.

Standing at the center of global climate governance

Ma Aiming, deputy director of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC), told People's Daily online in an exclusive interview that China is committed to forming a "fair, reasonable, and win-win global climate cooperation framework."

Ma Aiming, deputy director of the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC), receives an exclusive interview with People's Daily Online. (People's Daily Online/Li Jianyue)

China plays a constructive role in climate negotiations. "We are signatories to the U.N. Climate Change Convention, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement," Ma explained. The country has also been deeply involved in the construction and reform of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, submitting thousands of proposals from the Chinese government and scientists.

Additionally, China actively participates in South-South cooperation on climate change, providing assistance and support to other developing countries. "We have signed about 40 documents to collaborate with other developing countries by donating equipment necessary to combat climate change and offering training opportunities," said Ma.

Launching the world’s largest carbon market

China's commitment to green and low-carbon development is crucial for global climate governance. In July 2021, China's national carbon market commenced online trading, marking a significant move toward achieving its "dual carbon goals" of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060.

Initially targeting the power sector, responsible for over 40 percent of China's energy-related CO2 emissions, the plan is to gradually expand China's national carbon emissions trading market to other energy-intensive sectors. These sectors include steel, non-ferrous metals, building materials, and chemicals.

“In the past two years, I think the market has been going smoothly. And I think what is important is that it sends a very clear signal to the whole country: we are serious about controlling our CO2 emissions. And companies and industries can benefit from their actions of reducing greenhouse gases,” Ma noted.

As the second performance period of the national carbon market approaches, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) is exploring new ways to enhance the efficacy of China’s national market. “The MEE has required some research institutes to work on the possible expansion of market coverage,” said Ma. He also mentioned that China is on track to relaunch the China Certified Emission Reduction program, a voluntary mechanism where participants can earn carbon credits to trade.

Coordinating environmental protection and economic development

Curbing carbon emissions doesn't have to hinder economic development. China's low-carbon transition aims to strike a dynamic balance between energy security and carbon emission reduction, tailored to its national circumstances. “We have to balance both our energy conservation and development needs,” said Ma.

In response to increasing calls to reduce coal power usage, China has intensified its efforts to lower the share of coal in its energy mix and accelerated the development of renewable energy. However, Ma emphasized that solutions like strict power rationing that risks blackouts are not ideal. Abruptly phasing out coal-fired power without ensuring power supply and security could lead to negative economic and social impacts.

“At this moment, coal accounts for something like 56 percent or 57 percent of our energy supply. We cannot phase out coal overnight; it needs a process. We have to do it in maybe 10 years, 15 years, or 20 years. We have to do it gradually,” Ma noted.

(Guo Siqi, as an intern, also contributed to this article.)

(Web editor: Sheng Chuyi, Wu Chengliang)


Related Stories