Xi Jinping made news at this year’s U.N. General Assembly by making a pledge for China to go carbon neutral by 2060. What’s the national security significance of the move?
Scott Moore is a political scientist whose interests center on environmental sustainability, technology, and international relations. His first book, "Subnational Hydropolitics: Conflict, Cooperation, and Institution-Building in Shared River Basins" (Oxford University Press, 2018), examines how climate change and other pressures affect the likelihood of conflict over water within countries. He is currently the Director of the Penn Global China Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and has previously worked for the World Bank and the U.S. State Department.
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For decades, China was reluctant to deem climate change a national security issue, preferring instead to view it through the lens of development. The driving concern behind China’s reticence was sovereignty; Beijing feared that crisis rhetoric about climate change would be used to legitimate interventionist actions on the part of Western powers, including forcing Beijing to curtail its economic growth.