Recently, China Dialogue, an independent dual-language blog with offices in San Francisco, London, and Beijing , conducted an interview with Zou Ji, the deputy director of China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy.
According to Zou Ji, China has some advantages to cutting CO2 emissions. The global financial crisis which has led to adjustments in the world economy has benefitted China. Now the second largest economy, China has been able to spend a great deal of money on institutional measures and R&D that it never could have done before its economic boom.
However, Zou Ji did note that China also has some disadvantages. Misconceptions about China are widely prevalent internationally. One misconception is that China is a developed nation. The majority of people believe that since China has sent astronauts into space, hosted an Olympic games, and has rich areas like Shanghai and Beijing that the country is generally affluent. However, rural residents still have difficulty making ends meet.
China is weak on healthcare and unemployment benefits and pensions. Many use unsafe drinking water, and China’s per-capita CDP is in the nineties globally. All things considered, China is still a developing nation.
China’s main resource is coal. Unlike Brazil, which gets 90% of its energy from hydropower, China is locked into its coal paradigm for now. If the country were able to replace coal, emissions would drop by one third. If coal were replaced by natural gas, emissions would drop by two thirds.
China is so enmeshed with coal that moving toward clean energy is a herculean task.
Zou Ji also believes that if China moves too quickly, low-carbon development will be held back. Historically, developing nations have a difficult time cutting emissions.
China is responsible for 70% of new emissions annually.