China — the world’s top producer of carbon emissions — is shirking climate goals to prioritize economic growth.
The development comes as President Biden and other leaders of the G7 — a group of seven first-world economic powers — emphasize climate change as a key global challenge at their June 11 meeting.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
China’s top economic planners have put the brakes on attempts by environmental officials to reduce carbon emissions as driving growth takes priority over meeting climate targets for now, according to people familiar with the matter.
Officials at China’s main economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, have limited the initial scope of a national carbon-trading system, which is set to go into full operation later this month after pilot projects in eight Chinese cities.
The economic planning office has also gained the upper hand in negotiations over drafting a detailed road map to fulfill leader Xi Jinping’s pledges to achieve a peak in carbon-dioxide emission before 2030 and net zero emissions by 2060, the people said.
China alone is responsible for 28% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Between 2008 and 2018 — a period of rapid economic growth for the nation of 1.4 billion people — its carbon dioxide emissions significantly increased. Over the same period, the United States’ emissions trended slightly downward.
According to the International Energy Agency, decreases in American emissions are attributable to “higher nuclear power output,” “fuel switching from coal to natural gas,” and “the expanding role of renewable sources.”
Despite China’s most recent shift in policy, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry and China Special Envoy for Climate Change Xie Zhenhua released a statement in April vowing to jointly address climate change:
The United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis, which must be addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it demands… Both countries recall their historic contribution to the development, adoption, signature, and entry into force of the Paris Agreement through their leadership and collaboration.
As China continues to sidestep its climate goals to emphasize economic growth, the Biden administration has enacted policies that scale back energy development in the interest of curbing emissions — a move that leads to more expensive fuel prices and unemployment in the energy sector. On Wednesday, for example, the Keystone XL Pipeline project — which President Biden killed via executive order on his first day in office — officially shuttered, leading to thousands of lost jobs
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