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Climate change

China can lead way on climate change

Unlike his US counterpart, President Xi Jinping with his push for a huge carbon trading market knows a cut in polluting emissions can bring economic benefits

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 1:46am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 December, 2017, 1:46am

The global praise that greeted Beijing’s unveiling of plans to create the world’s largest carbon trading market was for good reason. With the United States having withdrawn from the Paris climate change accord, China has been eyed to take a leadership role. It has been reluctant to take charge, but the scale of the scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the potential impact on international levels effectively put the nation in a central position. It is what the world needs at such a challenging time to stop temperatures from rising.

China has long been the world’s biggest polluter and unexpected economic growth this year has threatened to derail efforts to meet targets under the accord. The carbon trading market, which will be the world’s largest when it is launched in 2019, will dramatically reduce emissions and ensure it stays on track; more than 1,700 power plants, behind the generation of almost 40 per cent of the nation’s carbon dioxide pollution, will be included. In later stages, the chemical, building and aviation industries will be among sectors added. The strategy will go a considerable way to helping China meet its goal of capping emissions by 2030, although the success of efforts so far give cause for some experts to believe this could happen as soon as 2025.

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Meeting and exceeding targets could help the world attain its Paris goals, even with the absence of the US. President Xi Jinping, who is behind the drive, well knows the benefits for growth and development, a reality refuted by his American counterpart, Donald Trump, who denies that air pollution is causing global warming. The creation of a clean energy industry has brought billions of dollars and thousands of jobs and China is now a world leader in numerous fields, including solar and wind. Such efforts will reduce air pollution, improve the health of citizens, strengthen the nation’s diplomacy and improve its image.

Xi used the term “torch-bearer” rather than “leader” at the Communist Party’s recent 19th congress when referring to China’s role in the fight against climate change. But the introduction of the carbon trading market gives cause to consider taking up the leadership.