Expert Blog

ChinaFAQs experts react to the latest headlines about China climate and energy issues.

Chris Henderson, Ranping Song, and Paul Joffe
January 17, 2017

This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog.

In his address to the World Economic Forum today, Chinese President Xi showed China’s willingness to step into a growing global leadership role, including on climate change. Xi called for all countries to hold fast to the hard-won Paris Agreement, saying “walking away” from the pact would threaten future generations, and that green development is already showing promising results. This was a continuation of the stance China took during the climate talks in Marrakech, Morocco last year, where the country indicated its intent to advance ambitious climate action.

Joel Jaeger, Paul Joffe, and Ranping Song
January 09, 2017

This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog.

As 2017 begins, China is poised to leap ahead of the United States on clean energy to become the most important player in the global market. Last year, China increased its foreign investment in renewables by 60 percent to reach a record $32 billion, according to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. This includes 11 new overseas investment deals worth more than $1 billion each.

Joanna Lewis
November 18, 2016

The United States and China, the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, have been cooperating on climate change and clean energy for several decades. Since 2009, this cooperation has been greatly enhanced and expanded, resulting in thousands of people from both countries working together to do collaborative research, to share experiences and information, and to develop commercial ventures to deploy clean energy technology.

Jonathan Moch
November 15, 2016

Given the health risks posed by air pollution, it is easy to understand why the Chinese government wants to address this problem. However, the dilemma is that some steps to clean up air pollution can actually contribute to global warming.

Deborah Seligsohn
November 04, 2016

While Chinese air pollution has become world famous, over the last couple of years there has been a slowly growing awareness that the Chinese government is working hard to reduce it, and in fact in the last five years pollution levels have been falling. What has not yet come to world attention, and in fact, few Chinese have really focused on, is that China has the potential to become the world leader in standard setting, at least in the two most polluting sectors, power and oil and gas. What this means is that China is now or soon will be demanding new technologies and new solutions to reduce air pollution, and thus its regulatory demands will become a driver of innovation.

Chris Henderson
September 03, 2016

On September 3rd, 2016, the United States and China formally joined the Paris Agreement on climate change. The announcement came at a bilateral meeting between President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping on Saturday, ahead of the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou, China. The announcement provides a major boost in the momentum behind the effort needed for the Paris Agreement to enter into force, which is likely to happen before the end of 2016. In order for the agreement to enter into force, a total of 55 countries representing 55% of global GHG emissions must join. China and the United States are the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, accounting for a combined 38% of global emissions.

Joanna Lewis
August 26, 2016

Climate change is the area in which China has shown perhaps the strongest international leadership. As China hosts the G20, we can expect energy and climate to be front and center.

Valerie Karplus and Michael Davidson
August 24, 2016

When it was first announced in late 2014, China’s climate pledge was a bold and unprecedented step that gave new confidence to global efforts to mitigate climate change. This pledge, enshrined in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, commits the country to peak its emissions at latest by 2030 through steady reductions in carbon intensity and deployment of non-fossil energy. As the world’s largest energy user and emitter, and second largest economy, China’s move placed a significant dent in global emissions projections at the time.

Today, the combination of China’s economic slowdown and proactive government realignment of internal priorities toward more sustainable growth has led to lower projections of the country’s emissions trajectory. The question is no longer whether or not China will be able to meet its pledge—indeed, a peak sooner than 2030 looks well within reach, suggesting China’s climate pledge was both prudent and credible.

Chris Henderson
July 22, 2016

In a post discussing the decline in China’s coal consumption, Fergus Green, London School of Economics, highlights the connection between the slowdown in energy demand growth and the change in China’s economic growth model from energy-intensive industries to high-tech manufacturing and services. Government policy is supporting non-fossil energy and limits on coal due to drivers such as climate change, energy security, air pollution, and pursuit of commercial opportunities.

Coal for Electricity
Lulu Xue
June 16, 2016

This post originally appeared on WRI’s insights blog.

Transportation is already a major source of CO2 emissions in both China and the United States—at 20 percent and 30 percent, respectively. The percentage of people traveling by car is increasing in Chinese cities, rising from 15 percent to 34 percent in Beijing between 2002 and 2013, creating air pollution and fueling climate change.