BEIJING, Nov. 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- An interview with reporter Xu Ruyi from China.org.cn on carbon neutrality:
Obama: "I have to confess it was particularly discouraging to see the leaders of the two other world's largest emitters — China and Russia, declined to even attend the proceedings, and their national plans so far reflect what appears to be a dangerous lack of urgency."
What, come again? Okay then! Let's talk about this.
For sure, carbon neutrality is a very practical way out for us and our future generations to tackle climate change. But before we go any further, let's get the fundamentals right. Carbon neutrality means zero NET carbon emission, "net", with a capital "N", which means a balance between what's been emitted and what's been removed — absorbed, captured, and so on. Not rocket science, right? For those who still don't get it, the math is really simple: Carbon neutrality = Carbon emission – Carbon removal, which gives us zero, nil, nada.
However, most of the criticism towards China centers ONLY around the emission part. Indeed, currently China is the world's largest emitter. But those biased critics don't seem to have realized that China has 1.4 billion people, more than four times that of the US! A population of this size, simply by breathing, already emits more carbon dioxide than any other country, not to mention meeting people's basic living necessities, such as food, clothing and shelter. In 2020, China's CO2 emission per capita was 7.41 metric tons. By the way, the US number is 14.24 metric tons. So on per-head basis, a Chinese citizen only emits half the CO2 of the average American citizen. Hmm, interesting.
Another fact is that China is the world's second largest economy, but the largest emitter; and America is the largest economy but the second largest emitter. No one's denying that, but wait, before we jump to any conclusion, we need to put things in perspective. China gives itself 30 years to achieve carbon neutrality, and US, the longtime contributor of carbon dioxide, leaves itself a much comfortable time of 43 years. Emm. We all know Rome wasn't built in a day, and the globe was not warmed up in the past 10 years. If we look at cumulative emission figures, China only accounts for roughly half of what America emitted during these past years. What America is asking, is like a grown-up asking a teenager to eat less! Mr. Obama said every country needs to make a sacrifice. I agree, but I do hope the "sacrifice" does not involve stopping this teenager from growing, or living altogether.
So much for the emission part. Remember, to make this equation happen, you would need two parts, a minuend (emission) and a subtrahend (removal). Questionably, however, a lot more people are only focusing on what China has emitted, while neglecting how much China has done on the removal part.
Now, here's some interesting trivia for you. Forests are efficient carbon catchers. China now has 220 million hectares of forest. According to the United Nations, from 2010-2020, forest area in China grew by more than 1.9 million hectares on average. Remarkably, China contributed to around 25% of global forest growth in the past 20 years. And, this number is still growing every day.
Offsetting carbon is another method which can be done through renewable energy. China's installed capacity for many renewable energies tops the world, and the percentage of coal consumption has already been diminishing for years.
All these, despite the need to develop, to eradicate poverty, despite the pandemic. What China has done definitely looks like "every possible effort" to me. As for why some strollers say the fast runners are not "urgent", I don't really get it.
Every change takes time. Let's just wait and see.
China's climate plan reflects a dangerous lack of urgency?
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