China will lead the world's post-COVID-19 green recovery
Andrew Korybko
Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the Climate Ambition Summit via video link, December 12, 2020. /Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the Climate Ambition Summit via video link, December 12, 2020. /Xinhua

Editor's note: Andrew Korybko is a Moscow-based American political analyst. The article reflects the author's views and not necessarily those of CGTN.

President Xi gave an important speech during the virtual Climate Ambition Summit on December 12 that was organized to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Paris Accords. He made three proposals: close ranks and make new advances in climate change governance; ensure that everyone participates in this to the best of their ability; and pioneer a new approach to the green recovery.

The Chinese leader set several specific goals for 2030. He wants to reduce carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 65 percent from the 2005 level, increase the share of non-fossil-fuel resources to about 25 percent, increase forest space by 6 billion cubic meters, and generate 1.2 billion kilowatts of solar and wind energy.

All of this is consistent with what President Xi declared when addressing the UN General Assembly in September, which he referenced in this speech. Back then, he pledged to fulfill China's net zero goal by 2060, prior to which he planned to have his country's greenhouse gas emissions peak by 2030.

These targets are the definition of ambitious, but they're nevertheless doable because China clearly has the political will to see them through to their completion. It's also worthwhile to mention that the Chinese leader described his country's ultimate intentions as supporting a green recovery for the post-COVID-19 global economy.

China is at the forefront in green energy technologies, and there's no better time than during the unprecedented crossroads that global civilization has found itself in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic for the country to play a key role in setting global standards in this respect.

A view of downtown Beijing, capital of China, September 17, 2020. /Xinhua

A view of downtown Beijing, capital of China, September 17, 2020. /Xinhua

Combating climate change, just like containing COVID-19, is impossible without China. With its unparalleled technological advancements in this field, China can not only reduce its own carbon emissions possibly ahead of schedule, but also help all of its partners do so as well, especially those that participate in the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

It should also be said that President Xi's post-COVID-19 green recovery plan perfectly complements China's new development paradigm of "dual circulation." The widespread sale of green energy technologies within the country serves the purpose of supporting domestic circulation, the same as its ambitious export plans do with respect to international circulation, thus demonstrating how these technologies embody the convergence between those two circulation cycles. This observation reinforces optimism about the future prospects of China's envisioned post-COVID-19 green recovery strategy for the global economy.

The United States' incoming Biden administration's pledge to rejoin the Paris Accord opens up the opportunity for China and the U.S. to put their strategic competition aside to cooperate on combating climate change. The U.S.'s return to the agreement might even lead to more goodwill and trust between these two countries after America realizes that China dutifully respected its prior promises this entire time, which debunks the false narrative that Beijing doesn't abide by the rules-based international order. It was the U.S., not China, which unilaterally abandoned its international obligations under President Trump.

China is an unstoppable force in fighting climate change, and America can't achieve its own goals in this respect without closely cooperating with it. The positive working dynamic that might develop between these two countries could potentially pave the way for de-escalating tensions between them on other fronts such as trade, technology, and the South China Sea for example. All that's needed is for Biden to have the political will.

With or without the U.S., however, China will stop at nothing in its crusade against climate change since President Xi regards it as inseparable from his country's vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind.

The Chinese leader even concluded his speech by reminding everyone that "Earth is our only and shared home," which is why the global struggle against climate change must succeed. Failure isn't an option, but that scenario also isn't credible anyhow since China is leading the world's green recovery, which greatly improves mankind's chances of surviving the climate change crisis.

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