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Xi: Climate targets must not impact food security and quality of life

Economic challenges have made China’s government nervous about the impact of climate change mitigation on growth.

Photo: Jason Lee/Reuters

China’s CO2 reduction targets must not compromise the energy and food security nor the Chinese people’s chances for a ”normal life”, says Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases has come under pressure in recent years to raise its climate ambitions and take further steps to curtail global warming.

But growing economic challenges have prompted concerns in government circles regarding the impact of such ambitions on job creation and growth.

In a speech to leaders of the ruling Communist Party, Xi says that China must ”overcome the notion of rapid success” on climate and proceed cautiously.

The speech was published Monday evening local time.

”Reducing emissions [of greenhouse gases, -ed.] is not about reducing productivity, and it’s not about not emitting at all,” says Xi, according to state news agency Xinhua.

”We must adhere to the overall plan and ensure energy supply security, industrial supply chain security and food security while at the same time reducing CO2 emissions.”

Following a large national economic meeting at the end of last year, Chinese politicians have repeatedly emphasized that China ”prioritizes stability” in 2022.

This approach is already evident from the nation’s policies.

Earlier this week, Chief Engineer of the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environment Zhang Bo said that the government will not require local governments to meet new stricter water quality targets.

Instead, they will be called on to consolidate earlier breakthroughs.

China has on numerous occasions pledged to accelerate its green transformation. Nevertheless, the country won’t begin to phase out the use of coal – which is a major climate change contributor – until 2025.

In December, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission also reported that it would loosen restrictions on energy consumption to prevent the national climate targets from inhibiting economic growth.

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