Wang Wen: China in the fast lane to realize carbon neutrality

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Wang Wen: China in the fast lane to realize carbon neutrality

2021-09-23

By: Wang Wen    Source: Global Times    Published: 2021-09-22


The goal of China's carbon neutrality means that China aims to take the shortest time span in history to achieve the world's fastest carbon emission reduction, despite being the world's largest developing country. Compared with other developed countries, such as the US, Europe, and Japan, China's per capita GDP and per capita emissions at peak carbon emissions would be at a level lower than those countries when they achieve peak carbon emissions. This will bring about broad and profound economic and social systemic transformations. These need our great endeavors.


The messages came from China's top climate envoy Xie Zhenhua's speech on Wednesday at "Carbon Neutral, China in Action," a global seminar and research report release event hosted by Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.


Wednesday marks the first anniversary of the announcement of China's "Double Carbon" goals. Indeed, China proposed to hit peak emissions before 2030 and realized carbon neutrality by 2060. Over the past year, China has demonstrated unprecedented power of action as a major country. Various ministries have successively introduced key policies for carbon neutrality, and each province and city has put the goals in their local 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25). Industries and different sectors have been proactively responding to the call, and formulating emission reduction plans. Financial system has comprehensively launched green upgrades.


It has become a common obligation and responsibility of all countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and respond to global climate change. The concept of carbon neutrality has further elevated the issue of global climate change from environmental protection and resource utilization to an economic development model with higher level of quality.


In the case of complex global climate and environmental issues, all countries have stepped up their efforts to deploy their own green development policies around 2020. These include increasing investment in and supporting green industries, developing clean and renewable energy, boosting the importance of international green financing, and taking green and low-carbon development as an important guide for international cooperation and competition.


As a developing country, China's per capita carbon dioxide emissions are not far from the world average, its high emission intensity reflects the urgent need to improve the quality of China's economic development.


Driven by the "Double Carbon" goals, China has issued a series of key policies oriented toward carbon neutrality, urging all departments to carry out their own characteristic emission reduction work in accordance with top-level guidelines, and continue to carry out rational optimization of energy structure, green upgrading of traditional industries, improving the efficiency of resource utilization, innovating green and low-carbon technologies, realizing low-carbon transformation of trade in services.


In the first half of 2021, provinces and municipalities in China actively responded to the country's call to achieve emission peak and carbon neutrality goals. They have established in their local 14th Five-Year Plan the overall goal. They have also launched important countermeasures for carbon peaking in key industries in several fields. These policies have become the most important part of local ecological development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period.


All parts of Chinese society welcome the government's decision on carbon neutrality. Under the guidance and promotion of the national layout of carbon neutrality, industries and sectors in China aim to scientifically coordinate emitters, executors of policy, the market, and holders of needed resources. They will eventually plan and implement emission reduction strategies in stages.


In the financial sector, the People's Bank of China has taken the initiative to make green financial services following the development of a low-carbon economy in the 21st century. Financial institutions in the country also have kept increasing their enthusiasm and taking more initiative to participate in green financing. They have started an upgrade of policy, service, and tools for green financial measures to realize carbon peaking and neutrality goals.


As for the research community, many scholars from universities and corporate research centers have launched theoretical and practical research on carbon neutrality. In addition, several famous research institutions in China have released their research reports on carbon neutrality from the perspective of their respective industries. For instance, in July, Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China released the world's first "Double Carbon" regulatory platform. It will monitor and assess how the stage goals of carbon peaking and neutrality are being achieved on both national and local levels.


Carbon neutrality will lead to a comprehensive economic transformation, as well as a revolution of thinking and lifestyle in China's rejuvenation. At the macro level, carbon neutrality will enable China to enhance its comprehensive development strength and improve its financial system with "green" as its core and orientation. On the other hand, at the micro level, the carbon market will bring financial opportunities for companies to become low-carbon, and the low-carbon economy will provide more jobs for people.


Carbon neutrality, China will honor its promises.


The author is a professor and executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.


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