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China's urbanization policy and its relationship to climate change

CGTN | Updated: 2021-01-26 15:09

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his speech at Davos that China's efforts at combating climate change are about protecting our shared home and realizing the sustainable development of humanity. The interest of the entire human race is at stake.


Climate change is a challenge to the international community. There's no one single policy change or one single pack between countries that could solve it. "Solving climate change is going to take fundamental, structural industrial changes. The economy is going to have to change in very fundamental ways. And also the way people live is going to have to change," said David Blair, the vice president of the Center for China and Globalization.

China walks at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Over the years, the country has invested enormous amounts of the resources in the R&D of clean and renewable energy and diversifying the country's energy course.

According to a report from China Daily, China's coal accounted for about 58 percent of the country's total energy consumption 2019, 11 points lower than it was in 2012. The share of natural gas, hydropower, nuclear power and wind power consumption rose by 8.9 percent between 2012 and 2019. And China has the world's largest renewable energy market and equipment manufacturer.

Lifestyle changes could be the most difficult. Implementing it tends to face public resistance. But urbanization, one of China's primary economic policies, helps along the fight. The main focus of urbanization is to elevate citizens' standard of living. It brings about an economy that offers better jobs, more competitive salaries and living conditions. The policy itself incentives people to change their way of living.

As Blair said: "People living in cities tend to use less energy than people spread out in the suburbs, for example." By structuring the society and economic development around urban areas, people are drawn into clusters of cities and townships, making a better life for themselves while, perhaps unconsciously, contributed to mitigating the negativity of energy consumption.

But, however much a single country can contribute, it wouldn't be enough in combating this global problem. All countries should have a responsibility to make their share of efforts in taking on the issue. "We have to be sure that a broad spectrum of society in every country believes that this is to their benefit," Blair stated. Each country faces different situation and political environment, there's no single fit-for-all solution. It is up to them to figure out what they can contribute. But efforts are required from every one.

This article is based on an interview with David Blair, the Vice President of the Center for China and Globalization.

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