The country is also the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for 28% of global emissions in 2018.
Economists have urged China to adopt a new development model based on “wellbeing” rather than GDP growth in order to meet its 2060 net-zero emissions goals and address the mounting threats of climate change. The report, which has already been submitted to the Chinese government, was authored by a team of influential economists, including two former chief economists of the World Bank.
The old development model has driven rapid growth in China over the last four decades, but it is now putting the world at “grave risk”, the report said. To bring clarity to its decision-making, China needs to set a specific numerical target for emissions peak. The report also called on China to give greater prominence to public transport and set a timetable for the elimination of fossil-fuel vehicles. It also suggested promoting low-carbon agriculture, including plant-based meat and dairy.
China began experimenting with “green GDP” in 2005, but the project was cancelled in 2009. However, in 2013, the Chinese government promised to abandon a “growth at all costs” model and said GDP would no longer be the sole criteria on which officials would be assessed. Some provinces have recently resumed efforts to create new indicators reflecting the environmental costs of development.
Data released on Monday showed that China is home to 16 of the 20 global regions most vulnerable to climate change. It is also the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for 28% of global emissions in 2018. The report by the economists is expected to play a constructive role in China’s 2026-2030 “five-year plan” and help the country meet its net-zero emissions goals.