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How China Plans to Become Carbon-Neutral by 2060

Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg
Updated on

China’s rapid industrialization has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and transformed the country into the world’s factory floor. It’s also made China the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas driving climate change. President Xi Jinping has pledged to fix that and have China become “carbon neutral” by 2060 -- an especially challenging target given its emissions are still rising. While the country has been pouring money into renewable energy, a widespread power crunch late in 2021 prompted it to redirect support to polluting fossil fuels, illustrating the difficulty of balancing long-term climate goals and short-term energy security.

It means cutting as much of your carbon dioxide emissions as possible and then offsetting what you can’t eliminate. For a country, this could mean switching to renewable energy such as solar power instead of coal and investing in projects that absorb carbon dioxide, such as reforestation. Carbon neutral, or net zero, has become a goal of companies and countries alike to address public concerns about the impact emissions have on the climate.