Climate change poses challenges to all of humankind. Scientific studies and statistical analyses have shown that the climate is changing at an alarming rate and that human activity is the main cause. Glaciers are melting faster than ever. Problems such as unbalanced distribution of water, biodiversity loss, and increasingly frequent disastrous weather conditions are threatening social and economic development as well as human health.
As a vast country with a huge population, insufficient natural resources (as measured on a per capita level), fragile eco-systems, and sophisticated climate patterns, China is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on many fronts. These fronts include: national economic security, energy security, ecological security, food security, human health, and socioeconomic development. Low-carbon economic growth and actions to slow the rate of climate change are required for sustainable development and the protection of fragile ecosystems. They also bring significant opportunities for economic restructuring, growth mode transformation, and a new type of industrialization.
Climate change is a challenge that can only be tackled through international cooperation. All of the 150 countries present at the Global Climate Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 approved United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was the first international convention to address the negative influence of global warming on the world’s economy by controlling the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions. It offered a basic framework under which countries could work together to tackle the climate issue. The COP 21, held near Paris-Le Bourget in the northern suburbs of Paris between November 30th and December 12th of 2015, witnessed the signg of a legally binding Agreement, featuring innovative mechanisms for taking action, bottom-up approaches based on voluntary emission reductions, and expanded involvement by more nations. Developing countries, such as China, proposed specific measures for emission reduction, which were well received by the international community. Each country is expected to adopt low-carbon actions to combat climate change based on fairness, capacity, and the principle of common, but differentiated responsibilities.
With the increasing global effort in curbing climate change, China has intensified its own efforts. At the 18th National Congress of China’s Communist Party, which was held on November 8th, 2012, China introduced the concept of “eco-civilization,” which required “Green, Sustainable, and Low-Carbon Development.” During the third plenary session of the central committee of the CPC National Congress, arrangements were made to institutionalize the effort to develop an “eco-civilization” by pursuing low-carbon development. On June 30th, 2015, China submitted its “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” (INDC) to the UNFCCC Secretariat, affirming its intention to peak its carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 and lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% from 2005 levels by 2030. The INDC also includes the goal of increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in China’s primary energy consumption to 20% by 2030. At the fifth session of the CPC central committee of the 18th CPC National Congress, the Party set clear goals to adopt environmentally friendly industrial production, build a low-carbon society, and effectively control carbon emissions. As the combat against climate change gains strategic importance and the targets of emission reduction become clearer, China is developing a carbon emissions trading market.