December 31, 2021
China faces tougher challenges than developed countries in the global green transition, but it can make use of its comparative advantages to overcome those challenges, an economics expert said.
Liu Shijin, deputy director of the Economic Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, made the remark at a seminar on Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Tuesday.
Ecological civilization is a concept promoted by Xi for balanced and sustainable development that features the harmonious coexistence of man and nature.
In addition to peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060, China also aims to increase its per capita GDP to the level of a moderately developed country by 2035.
Liu said with little growth in per capita carbon dioxide emissions, and even a decrease, China will have to increase per capita GDP from the current level of about $10,000 to $30,000 to $40,000, which is “something developed economies have never experienced” and “unprecedented” in human history.
Developed nations peaked their emissions through a development path of high emissions and economic growth. China, however, has to take a path that features low emissions and high economic growth.
Developed nations have entered a development stage that depends on the services sector for economic growth. With pollution problems largely addressed, they only have to reduce carbon emissions to achieve a green transition.
“For China, however, aside from reducing carbon emissions, we are still confronted with some grim challenges, including environmental pollution and ecosystem degradation,” he said.
However, China also has some advantages to exploit, Liu said.
For an extended period of time, China is expected to have an annual economic growth of 5 to 6 percent. With its large market still expanding, business models can be developed that boost green technology innovation and its application.
China doesn’t lag far behind developed nations in terms of green technology development, he added. In some sectors, China leads the world, such as photovoltaic power generation and new energy vehicles, Liu said. It’s possible that China will manage to develop comparative advantages as the world forges ahead with the green transition.
He also emphasized China’s institutional advantages in facilitating green development, saying different levels of government have strong capabilities to coordinate and implement, which helps form social consensus. Governments can also offer strong policy support.
“If we can attach enough importance to these advantages and make them fully play their roles, the opportunities China faces will outweigh the challenges,” he said.
The seminar is the first held by the Research Center for Xi Jinping Thought on Ecological Civilization after it was established in July. It attracted around 260 participants from research institutions, universities, enterprises and the media.