China won’t save global climate protection policies

Technicians check solar panels in China
Technicians check panels at a solar power plant in Tianjin, in northern China. In 2016, the country’s solar power capacity grew by 80 percent (source: dpa)
  • China has made much progress in using and supporting renewable energy
  • It did this mainly to achieve domestic political and geopolitical goals
  • Fossil fuels will continue to play a huge part in the long-term energy mix
  • China may not be able to sustain its green-energy momentum, however

China has made huge efforts to reduce the role of fossil fuels in its energy supply and invest in renewable energy sources. However, Beijing has not suddenly become altruistic or overcome with concern for the state of the global environment. Instead, it is following its national interests and advancing them with little or no heed for the long-term global good. Expect China to continue its climate protection policy “with Chinese characteristics,” making it unlikely to develop the much tougher decarbonization strategies necessary for it to hold up its end of the 2015 Paris climate agreement and keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius.

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