The dream of a prosperous, peaceful, harmonious and beautiful world cannot be achieved without healthy environment and stable climate. Unfortunately, humans did not learn from history and continued with breaking the laws of nature which resulted in climate change, now an existential threat.
Regrettably, world is still debating and has limited interest in taking any practical steps. Developed countries, which are responsible for climate change, are not ready to lead climate fight. Rather, they are trying to avoid historical responsibility by putting efforts to shift the burden on developing countries by adopting a stepwise strategy.
First, they trapped NGOs and think tanks (TTs) from developing world to assist them in shifting the burden to developing countries. They used them to shame their own governments. They compelled their governments to take responsibility for countering climate change, especially in mitigating its effects.
Countries, under the pressure of their NGOs and TTs, had to come up with ambitious targets to lower the carbon emissions without any assistance from developed countries. In this way, developed countries achieved the first victory against the historical responsibility argument by spending few hundred millions on NGOs and TTs.
Second, developed countries started pitching private sector as alternative to public spending. They presented the same private companies, which are responsible for climate change, as a solution. Now, efforts have been consolidated in the form of Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. With the launch of alliance, developed countries achieved two objectives: they paved a way for shifting of focus from public to private finance; they created business opportunities for the climate culprits.
Third, developed countries are trying to make China a scapegoat for their inactions. It has become normal for Western leaders to criticise China, and are trying to compel it to shoulder Western burden, so that they can continue their free-ride.
China is fully committed to fighting climate change and contributing at the global level. As President Xi said, “We will never again seek economic growth at the cost of environment”. For that purpose, he introduced the grand vision of ecological civilisation to steer China on the way of green development and fight back climate change. It is unique model which talks about harmony between human and environment.
The good thing is that China is not restricting itself to rhetoric but taking practical steps. First, it put efforts to enhance the forest cover of country, which increased from 10.6% in 1976 to 24% in 2022 (1.15 million km2). Further, during the last decade China turned 34.7 million hectares of land into forest and contributed ¼ to new forest cover of world.
Second, China has adopted new philosophy of development which revolves around green growth and innovation. 14th Five-Year was formulated to pave the way to achieve the goals of new philosophy of development, especially high-quality development. The plan set targets to lower carbon emission intensity by 18% and energy intensity by 13.5% till 2025. Simultaneously, circular economy will be promoted to achieve the goals of sustainable use of resources. Recycling industry will also be encouraged to achieve the volume of $773 billion. China also pledged through NDC that it will be working to install 1200 Gigawatt of wind and solar energy. Further, 25% of needs of national consumption will be met through renewable energy till 2030.
Third, China is assisting world in combating challenges of climate change without comprising on the development needs of developing countries. It has launched numerous programmes and initiatives to work with global community. It launched Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to assist world in achieving goals of development.
Now, China is turning BRI into green initiative. President Xi launched numerous initiatives at the forum of BRI, including BRI Green Coalition Council, Green Development Coalition, Silk Road Environment Programme, GSREP, Big Data Platform, BRETETC, etc. Data shows green investment under BRI increased from 19.60% in 2014 to 58.12% in 2020.
China launched Six-100 programmes and Global Development Initiative to help the developing world. Climate change is one of key areas in these initiatives which are specially designed to meet the expectations of developing countries.
President Xi also launched Kunming Biodiversity Fund ($233 million) at COP-15. AIIB is another initiative which is providing financing support for the Green Development. Moreover, China, through South-South cooperation, is providing technology like drones, micro-satellites and meteorological mobile stations etc. to developing countries.
Third, China is playing a positive role at UNFCCC and helped the world in finalising Paris Climate Change Agreement. China, through GDI, is putting efforts to speed up implementation of SDGs.
In conclusion, we can infer that China is walking the talk on climate change.
China is following the philosophy of President Xi Jinping which emphasises balance of ambitions. As he said, “There is need to create a balance between the ambitions of GHG emission reduction and living needs of people.