Take action on climate change, China is doing better than most people imagined a friend recently stayed in Beijing for a month. He likes to walk and walks 20 kilometers a day in the streets of the city. He has two observations. As a person who has always paid attention to China, the author is deeply impressed.
The first is clean air and blue sky. It is true that when the author’s friend stayed in Beijing, it was a relatively good summer air, not the worst winter air quality. But in the past 10 years, the improvement of air quality in Chinese cities has indeed been very significant. The second is that the street is very quiet and much quieter than the street outside our cafe in Vancouver. This is not because there is no one on the street. On the contrary, cars and pedestrians on the streets are constantly flowing. But because many vehicles are electric, there is no sound from the engine. When the city street is driving at a low speed, only the sound of the tire driving across the road is very quiet.
Clean air, quiet streets – this is the capital of China, a city with a population of nearly 22 million. But in this and many other aspects, many people’s views on China remain in the past.
Right now, the United States is launching a trade war against China, and Trump frequently attacks China. As everyone knows, he once said that “the concept of global warming is created by the Chinese, but also for the Chinese, the purpose is to make the US manufacturing industry uncompetitive.” Many people who reject climate change, after their various theories have been refuted, will always move out one: What does the United States do is irrelevant, because China is the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter and is still opening new coal-fired power plants. .
But in fact, there is another story about China. This is a story that is consistent with the observations of the author’s friends but has not been fully reported or understood by the West. China is likely to achieve its emission reduction targets 10 years ahead of schedule.
Historically, the United States, which has only a quarter of China’s population, emits twice as much carbon dioxide as China. Yes, China is now the country with the most emissions, but let us not forget that China accounts for 18% of the world’s population and is the second largest economy in the world after the United States. Currently, 15% of the world’s GDP comes from China.
Now, we know that emissions are understood in terms of per capita and GDP. China is not the number one country that causes global warming, but the country with the most emissions today. Let us look at what China has done. China’s low-carbon power generation such as hydro, wind, solar and nuclear power generation exceeds that of any country in the world, and in each case exceeds the sum of two or three countries that follow. In 2017, China’s investment in renewable energy was three times that of the United States. China has also built more HVDC transmission facilities than other countries to deliver renewable electricity to major population centers with low losses.
There are more than 400,000 electric buses in China, which is equivalent to replacing 270,000 barrels of oil a day. Most countries with “large” electric bus fleets have less than 270 vehicles, three orders of magnitude lower than China. Chinese consumers buy electric cars that account for half of the world’s sales. China has about 30,000 kilometers of electrified high-speed railway, and plans to expand to about 38,000 kilometers, enough to circle the earth. There are no other countries in the world that are close to China. The total length of high-speed rail in Europe is only one-third of that in China, while the United States and Canada are zero. China is also the most active country in the world for afforestation. Since 1990, China has planted about 38 billion trees, and the afforestation area is equivalent to one France.
It is worth noting that China’s emissions increased by 2.3% last year, while US emissions increased by 3.4% over the same period. In other words, American politicians poked at China, but in fact the United States went in the wrong direction. What China does in terms of climate is very different from what most people think. In dealing with global warming, China should be an example for other countries to learn.