China is Taking Climate Change Seriously. Is the U.S.?

In its recently unveiled 13th Five-Year Plan, China has set aggressive targets to solve its pressing environmental problems, including air pollution, water conservation, responsible urban growth, clean transportation, and renewables.
Apr 1, 2016 6:00 AM ET

Marco Rubio was dead wrong. I suppose that blasting him for things he said while on the campaign trail is futile at this point, but I can’t help but vigorously refute a statement that he made in the last Republican debate—that the U.S. shouldn’t engage in any meaningful climate action because the planet is constantly changing (which is true), that China and India are ruining the environment (also true), and that, since everyone else is polluting and acting irresponsibly, anything we do is pointless because we’re all going to hell in a handbasket (unequivocally not true).

While China, India, and the U.S. are, indeed, the world’s largest emitters of carbon and other pollutants, we also have the power to remediate the damage and transform the global economy.

Of the three nations, China currently seems to be the most ambitious—and united—in its efforts to tackle climate change. As revealed in its new 13th Five-Year plan (a guide for the country’s financial development through 2020), China plans to aggressively grow its services sector (which is less polluting than heavy industry), expand efficient manufacturing, increase clean transportation, adopt widespread renewables, and reduce energy use.

China has set a new target for carbon reduction of 48% from 2005 levels by 2020, exceeding its previous target of 40%, and plans to reduce energy use by 15% through energy efficiency initiatives. Chinese solar capacity China installed 15GW of solar capacity in 2015 as part of major renewables deployment surge. Image courtesy of businessGreen.

Additionally, China is on a solar binge. According to MIT, “In 2015, the country added more than 15 gigawatts of new solar capacity, surpassing Germany as the world’s largest solar power market. China now has 43.2 gigawatts of solar capacity, compared with 38.4 gigawatts in Germany and 27.8 in the United States.”

Read more....