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How quickly can China reduce its greenhouse gas emissions? What is the potential for stabilising its material requirements? Despite China’s key role in global sustainability and the close link between resource consumption and climate change, the scholarly literature has focused on climate mitigation and resource efficiency in isolation. This research employs economic modelling to present a comprehensive picture of both issues and the resulting policy implications.
We adopt the idea of the scenarios from the 2019 Global Resources Outlook of the UNEP International Resource Panel and analyse the environmental effects of three ambitious policies for climate mitigation, resource efficiency and land use change to explore China’s potential to develop towards sustainability. To do so we employ two global models: the Global Trade and Environment (GTEM) of the CSIRO (with extensions for energy, materials and greenhouse gas emissions) and the Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM) of IIASA.
Our preliminary results show that under a continuation of ‘Historical Trends’, China’s greenhouse gas emissions and total material use will peak around 2040. Ambitious policies of resource efficiency and emission abatement in a ‘Towards Sustainability Scenario’ would allow China to significantly reduce its material demand and greenhouse gas emissions.