China is worried about climate change. The largest emitter of carbon in the world, producing nearly twice as much as the number two United States, is looking at a future of flooded coastal cities, creeping deserts in the north, and water shortages throughout the country.
On the eve of the huge climate change meeting in Paris last week that brought together leaders of 150 countries, along with 40,000 representatives from every nation in the world, the Chinese government issued a report on the likely impact of global warming on the country. The third such report in a decade, each one increasingly dire, it reflects a rapidly dawning realization that China’s remarkable economic growth comes with an enormous global price tag. It also explains China’s willingness to offer, in advance of the Paris meeting, to up the share of renewables in its overall energy portfolio to 20 percent by 2030.