A new report from Greenpeace East Asia has calculated that emissions from China’s “new infrastructure” industries will only reduce emissions by 7.24% – far less than what was hoped for.
China is currently the world’s largest carbon emitter, accounting for 27% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The United States comes in second, and India comes in third.
According to Greenpeace’s report, China’s new infrastructure policy language has focused on low-carbon development for their latest projects – which is great. However, because China hasn’t set green standards for the supply chains of these projects, the individual projects only go so far.
Essentially, if the carbon emissions to create these “green” projects is high, it negates the positive impact of the projects as a whole. It’s like running a mile, then eating a cake. You may not gain that much weight, but you’re not exactly the poster child of health and wellness either.
“The goal of infrastructure investment is often to increase productivity in the supply chain. Addressing the carbon profiles of individual projects, then, only goes so far. Without specific environmental standards for the entire supply chain, high carbon emissions will remain a major byproduct that offsets any low-carbon advances in project planning,” said Zhang Kai, deputy program director in Greenpeace East Asia’s Beijing office.
In other words, there’s room for improvement.
China’s new infrastructure includes:
- 5G technology
- Artificial Intelligence
- Data Centers
- Electric Vehicles
- Infrastructure (such as Ultra-High Voltage Power Lines and “Smart” cities)
- High-Speed Railways
In addition to “new infrastructure,” China started a national carbon trading market in July. Once it is fully operational, it is expected to be the largest carbon marketplace in the world.
Right now, experts believe the global carbon market could reach $22 trillion by 2050. Many view the carbon marketplace (where carbon offsets are purchased through credits) as integral to fighting climate change, promoting sustainability, and driving economic growth.
China hopes to peak its carbon emissions by 2030. Their ultimate goal is to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
If China can continue to work on their new infrastructure projects, cut supply chain emissions, and expand their carbon credit and offset industry, net-zero goals may be possible. Time will tell.