China’s new commitment to ‘ecological progress’ holds great promise, but the interests of commercial enterprise and local administrations must be realigned for that promise to be realised

China’s bold talk on cutting carbon emissions will have to be matched by rapid and co-ordinated action if the country is serious about its contribution to global sustainability, analysts say.

In March 2016 the country is due to launch its 13th Five Year Plan, which for the first time will be informed by the Communist government’s concept of “ecological progress”. A few months before then, at the end of this year, a new international climate deal will be on the table in Paris, making the actions of China, as the world’s largest economy, even more significant.

Over the past four decades, China’s industrialisation has been defined by a “treatment after pollution” approach that has fouled river basins and lakes and brought high levels of lethal smog in cities, as well as an imminent long-term shortage of strategic resources and energy, according to a report by the Climate Group, published in March 2015. “These problems are unprecedented in severity and complexity,” says the briefing.

However, myriad environmental policy announcements in the past few months, and a 4.8% fall in energy intensity in 2014, have raised hopes that China is committed to effective action. The government’s annual National People’s Congress in March was dominated...

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Carbon emissions  China  climate  climate action  climate change  emissions  global sustainability 

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