As China seeks to meet its 2060 net-zero emissions goals and head off the mounting threats of climate change, a group of influential economists has urged it to adopt a new development model based on well-being rather than GDP growth.
The team, which includes two former World Bank chief economists, also urged China to cap fossil fuel consumption and establish a detailed emissions reduction plan.
It has already been submitted to the Chinese government. Co-author Nicholas Stern, the United Kingdom’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment chair, told reporters he hoped it would play a constructive role in China’s “five-year plan” for 2026-2030.
Over the past four decades, China has grown rapidly, but the old development model is putting the world at “grave risk”.
In order to bring “clarity” to its decision-making, Stern said China needs to set a specific numerical target to bring peak emissions by 2030.
In addition, the report called for China to promote low-carbon agriculture, including plant-based meat and dairy, and to set a timetable for eliminating fossil fuel vehicles.
As worries mounted about the environmental damage caused by rapid industrialization, China began experimenting with “green GDP” in 2005. A 2006 government report concluded that environmental losses accounted for 3% of total GDP, but critics believed the actual figure was higher.
China pledged in 2013 to abandon a “growth at all costs” model and said GDP would no longer be the only criterion for evaluating officials.
Central China’s Hubei province has developed a pilot “gross ecosystem product” that can be applied to individual districts, rivers, or development projects to calculate the environmental costs of development.
According to data released on Monday, 16 of the 20 most vulnerable regions in the world are located in China.
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