China’s efforts to shift away from coal will be blunted by the country’s growing carbon footprint overseas, argues Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz.
Climate change is now firmly at the top of the agenda, especially in China.
The world’s largest polluter wants to become an example of a less carbon-intensive economy, one which embraces renewable energy, makes the transition away from coal and has the capacity to capture carbon instead of emit it.
But can China ‘decarbonise’ its economy, and what does cutting carbon domestically mean for the rest of the world?
According to the 2001 winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, Joseph Stiglitz, there is a certain dilemma regarding China’s role in moving towards a low-carbon economy, especially given its deeper engagement with Latin America, the new frontier for the reproduction of Chinese capital.
Latin America will be the target of massive investments, to the tune of US$250 billion (1.55 trillion yuan) over the next decade, Chinese President Xi Jinping promised in January.
“I see that the Chinese Government is very committed to climate change at the national level. But they are also committed to development. This is one of the tensions. China has worked to reduce emissions within the country with some success, but just increasing the GDP causes more emissions,” said Stiglitz at a scientific conference on climate change in Paris earlier this month.
Two thousand researchers attended the conference held at UNESCO’s headquarters entitled Our Common Future Under Climate Change, and were keen to report their findings in advance of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21), which will be held in Paris at the end of the year.
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