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Technology & Innovation

China: Environmental Bomb or Boon?

The country is the world's largest polluter, but it is cleaning up faster than anyone else.

What’s the Latest Development?

The think blanket of smog that settled over Beijing earlier this summer prompted public outcry and political solutions. To many, the event represents China’s environmental turning point. The country is the world’s largest polluter, but it is cleaning up faster than anyone else. “Since 2000 China alone has accounted for two-thirds of the global growth in carbon-dioxide emissions. This will be very hard to reverse. While America and Europe are cutting their emissions by 60m tonnes a year combined, China is increasing its own by over 500m tonnes. This makes it a unique global threat.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Despite the environmental degradation that has resulted from China’s economic expansion, its government is being more aggressive at tackling environmental problems than any government in the past. “Its carbon emissions are growing at half the rate of GDP, a bit better than the global average. China has also boosted investment in renewable energy far more than any other country. It has the world’s most ambitious plans for building new nuclear power stations.” Still, to keep global temperatures below a 2°C rise, China would need its emissions to fall to zero within ten years of a 2025 peak—clearly an impossibility.

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Read it at the Economist