Can China’s Development Ambitions and Environmental Protection Priorities Yield a Global Dividend?
More than two years ago at the United Nations Conference of the Parties meeting in Paris, China vowed by 2030 to peak its carbon emissions, make a 60 to 65 percent improvement in the carbon intensity of its economy, and draw at least 20 percent of its energy from non-fossil sources. In 2017, it advanced efforts to make good on that Paris Agreement pledge by creating a national carbon market that when fully implemented could more than double the volume of worldwide carbon emissions covered by a tax or tradable permit policy. And this year it announced its greatest environmental reform in decades—an environmental “super ministry” that could strengthen compliance with its new emissions trading program. But at the same time that China is working to tamp down on pollution at home, it has, in past decades, been seen to be exporting pollution through infrastructure investments in the developing world. Can China’s international development efforts be environmentally sustainable and will its unique approach to emissions trading work? Answering those questions is opening up new research areas and collaboration opportunities in China for Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.