China has pledged to use innovations in big data, biotech and artificial intelligence to tackle challenges such as pollution, habitat loss and climate change.
In a new action plan, the Chinese government said it would build a ‘green technology innovation system’ over the 2021-2025 period to tackle air, soil and groundwater pollution, reduce waste and protect ecosystems, noting that current technologies were not mature enough to serve the country’s long-term needs.
As part of the plan, China is expected to encourage enterprises and financial institutions to provide more support to innovative green technologies. The system will also be backed by tax incentives and new ‘green technology banks’, the government said.
The country’s Ministry of Science and Technology said the plan is set to help the nation, currently the world’s biggest greenhouse gas producer, meet its net zero targets.
The new national plan vows to ‘deploy science and technology systematically’ to resolve a wide range of environmental problems, as well as improve its ability to assess the impact of rising temperatures in vulnerable regions, and monitor new sources of pollution, harmful chemicals and drug-resistant bacteria.
The government said it will also support research into ‘deep decarbonisation technologies’ in a variety of industrial sectors, including steel, cement, thermal power and agriculture.
It also reiterated its commitment to carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology to prevent greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere, including projects surrounding the use of aquifers and oil-bearing formations to contain sequestered CO2.
The announcement comes just days before global leaders are set to meet in Egypt for COP27. China has said it will be sending a delegation to the summit, where Chinese representatives are expected to focus on persuading industrialised countries to provide a
long-awaited $100bn annual fund to help poorer nations adapt to rising temperatures.
China is currently the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, generating over 10 gigatons of CO2 per year, nearly twice that of the US. Over the last decade, China has cut CO2 emissions per unit of economic growth by a third and paved the way for EV-market readiness. However, the country’s overall emission volumes continue to rise.
In 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his plans to help China reach net zero carbon by 2060 and estimated that its CO2 emissions will peak by 2030. This was the first such major commitment China made in regard to the country’s contribution to climate change.
More recently, Xi Jinping has announced that China will give priority to environmental protection and promoting green lifestyles. Proclaiming the conservation of nature as an essential part of building a modern socialist country.
Outside of China, there have been other calls for technology to be implemented more widely to achieve net zero targets. For example, Professor of geological sciences at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability Jef Caers argued Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the key to ensuring countries hit their net zero targets. According to German startup Briink, AI may hold the answer for businesses meeting CSRD, NFRD and SFDR targets.
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