China Could Meet Climate Change Goals Nine Years Early, Report Says

It's huge news in the fight against global warming.

China is the world's biggest polluter, but it's also moving to reduce its emissions as fast as anyone.

As part of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, China pledged to hit "peak" carbon emissions before 2030. Its goal was to slow the rise of emissions to the point that they started to decline. 

A new study conducted by a U.S.-Chinese team now says that peak could come as soon as 2021, nearly nine years ahead of schedule. The news is timely, as members of the Paris Climate Agreement plan to come together next year for renegotiations.  

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"It reflects China's great efforts in mitigating climate change and the 'new normal' of the economy, from high speed to high quality, which might cause CO2 emissions to peak earlier," Haikun Wang of Nanjing University told New Scientist.  

A boy wears a mask to protect against pollution in Beijing, China.  Hung Chung Chih / Shutterstock

Globally, China accounts for about a quarter of all the world's emissions, which means its ability to reduce emissions is crucial to slowing climate change. Researchers believe China could peak even sooner if more attention is paid to its existing buildings and increasing the efficiency of those buildings. Still, the benefits of China's new strategies are having far-reaching effects. MIT recently published an article that China's new climate policy is "spreading across the Pacific" and "improved air quality in China could prevent nearly 2,000 premature deaths in the U.S."

"As China moves towards a higher tech and service economy, it is likely to show how the passage to a low-carbon economy and robust and sustainable growth in an emerging market economy can be mutually supportive," Nicholas Stern, of the London School of Economics, told New Scientist.

Cover photo: Hung Chung Chih

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