Even with its economic slowdown sending the occasional shockwave through the world’s stock exchanges, there’s little chance that China will ease off on its commitments to peak its coal consumption, ramp up renewable energy production, and stabilize its greenhouse gas emissions.
“The Chinese economy is going through a slow-moving shift that has been gathering strength for quite a while now,” Grist reports. “For years, the country’s double-digit levels of growth were fueled by the government investing huge proportions of the country’s GDP into Chinese industry—much of which is heavily polluting. But now, that sort of investment and growth have proved economically unsustainable.”
So the country has embraced “what President Xi [Jinping] has described as China’s ‘new normal’: The government will accept the inevitability of falling growth rates, and will invest less in efforts to spur growth.”
That decision is good news for the environment and the climate, Light writes. “Chinese industry is renowned for being energy inefficient,” Varun Sivaram of the Council on Foreign Relations told Grist. “My prediction is slowing economic growth has this kind of knock-on effect of low industrial power demand, which, I think, will skew toward lowering demand for coal versus any other power source.”
Sivaram added that China has multiple incentives to keep its climate promises, and is likely to do so. “I think China makes international commitments very carefully, and this particular one, I don’t think it was hasty or ill-thought-out,” he said. “In order to not renege on that commitment, China will have to keep increasing its share of renewables in the power mix as well as slowing down—not halting or reversing, but, in the near term, slowing down—the construction of coal power plants.”