The whole Chinese state system has been mobilised towards self-imposed milestones in reducing carbon emissions, with “carbon neutrality” and “emission peak” becoming catchphrases, defying doubts that its pledge is a trick to win short-term goodwill from the Biden administration. President Xi Jinping told a meeting earlier this month that China’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality would bring a “far-reaching and deep systemic social and economic transformation” and it matters for the “external development of the Chinese nation”. Beijing’s attitude towards climate change has gone through big changes over the past years. About a decade ago, the mainstream view was that China must not accept any caps on its carbon emissions. Any pleas for China to restrict carbon emissions were seen as a conspiracy by developed countries to slow its development, and Beijing cited concepts such as “emission per person” to justify its emissions. This contributed to the collapse of Copenhagen climate change talks in 2009 – although Beijing denied that. China’s coal consumption set to rise in 2021 despite Beijing’s carbon neutral goal Since Xi took power, he has been trying to give considerable weighting to the environment and climate in the country’s development. It was against this background that China has started to take part in, and even try to lead, global efforts in fighting climate change. With Washington also keen on climate change, it can offer Beijing a potential diplomacy bonus, but if Washington disregards climate change as nonsense – just like the Trump administration did – Beijing’s commitment to cutting carbon emissions will not be swayed. Xi’s 2060 pledge has sent a clear message to the country’s massive bureaucratic apparatus and whipped them into action, and an unannounced competition among Chinese provinces to cut carbon emission has already started. Shanghai is aiming to lead the country to peak carbon emissions by 2025, five years ahead of the national goal, while Inner Mongolia has kicked out all bitcoin mining sites to control carbon emissions. It is not strange for some people to doubt whether China, which has been relying on burning coal to empower its growth for decades, can really cut its coal obsession At the moment, it is not strange for some people to doubt whether China, which has been relying on burning coal to empower its growth for decades, can really cut its coal obsession, and there are technical questions such as how to calculate China’s carbon emissions. The Chinese government, which has abundant experience in making plans for big-ticket projects, is also still a green hand in factoring carbon into production and investment. But the political will from Beijing to reach the destination of carbon neutrality is beyond doubt, and that is why everyone is getting serious about carbon in China.