Ahead of this week’s summit of global leaders to discuss ways of tackling climate change, this
South China Morning Post series looks into how attitudes have changed among China’s leadership, the challenges faced by the world’s largest polluter and what we can expect from Thursday’s meeting.
When China pledged in September to reach carbon neutrality in four decades and peak emissions before 2030, it was a watershed moment in the global fight against climate change. But seven months later, one question in particular hangs over those goals: can the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide quit its addiction to coal? Coal has powered China’s breakneck economic growth over the past four decades, but it also presents one of the biggest challenges to its climate ambitions.
Although many scientists and policymakers in Beijing want to see the country hasten its transition away from the fossil fuel, concerns about energy security, economic stability and the powerful interests of cash-strapped local governments and giant state-owned enterprises are all pulling China the other way.