China should not wait for western countries to solve climate change, but go ahead and reap the benefits of technological advancement.
China has accomplished phenomenal economic growth in the latest decades and have thus managed to lift a huge amount of people out of poverty.
Unfortunately this success story also have an downside in the form of increasing amounts of air pollution affecting both human health and agricultural productivity and and self sufficiency in fuels changing into an increasing dependence on imported fossil fuels.
Unfortunately the example current developed western countries does not provide any policy tunnel to follow towards low consumption of fossil fuels for China to follow.
This historical track record of western countries should though not be used for China as an excuse for inaction. The cumulative effects of Chinas carbon dioxide emissions are already third after the United States and the European Union.
China should, and is to some degree already doing so, take this as an encouragement to develop the technology needed for the transition towards clean renewable energy and energy savings reaping the benefits of being on the technological forefront themselves.
For example Charles Weiss and William B. Bonvillian argue that: "The United States should keep in mind, too, that the economic advantages of leadership in technology have been the source of its wealth and well-being. Is it really in America's interest to cede leadership of a technological revolution in energy to other countries that now also understand the innovation-based growth model?"
This leadership is up to grabs, and China have the means to take it, to the benefit for its own people and the global community.
Which proposals are included in your plan and how do they fit together?
The importance of someone, for example China, showing example:
As a fast developing country China is not locked-in to same degree as developed western countries into old technology and consumption patterns. Thus China should aim not only towards carbon neutrality in the long run, but also towards an circular economy simultaneously.
With an large agricultural sector and large cities creating both large amounts of organic waster water, producing biofuels and fertilizers out of waste water could be one of the first instances where to close the loop.
A transfer towards renewable fossil free fuels will decrease emissions having an beneficial effect on agriculture. This does, however not take away the need to increase the resilience of agriculture towards climate change. A better knowledge of how local agricultural systems have evolved is a key to achieve this:
Considering the role of rice cultivation in China, and the climate effects of rice cultivation, it is especially important to show example in its cultivation:
Explanation of the emissions scenario calculated in the Impact tab
In the Regional Stanford EMF27 model, I was choosing the 450 ppm CO2e policy, as using the potential of a circular economy as suggested in the included proposal Aim higher, from just carbon neutrality towards closing the loop based on a Swedish Case Study by the Club of Rome showing that with a combination of energy efficiency, increased amount of renewable energy and a circular economy, a cut in carbon emissions with almost 70 % by 2030 is possible. The model though stubbornly keeps using the BAU Policy.
I was using a baseline Future energy efficiency, as I did not want to use CCS in the following tap. I want to save this as an option of last resort. In theory Greater efficiency could well be possible, as there are still plenty of low hanging fruits available regarding energy efficiency in China.
What are the plan’s key benefits?
Improved competitiveness through technological development and cheap energy in the long run, air quality, public health and agricultural productivity.
What are the plan’s costs?
Improved competitiveness will bring profits not costs, although there might be substantial initial costs.
What are the key challenges to enacting this plan?
The prevalent wait to see what the others do before own action attitude.
The sooner the better as there will be substantial first-mover advantages.
Jan Kunnas et al. "Counting carbon: historic emissions from fossil fuels, long-run measures of sustainable development and carbon debt" Scandinavian Economic History Review 62(3) 2014
Jan Kunnas & Timo Myllyntaus, "Are There Policy Tunnels for China to Follow?"
Charles Weiss & William B. Bonvillian, Structuring an Energy Technology Revolution. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009. reviewed here
Chris P. Nielsen and Mun S. Ho, (Eds.) Clearer Skies Over China: Reconciling Air Quality, Climate and Economic Goals. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013. reviewed here