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Peace, security and global climate change: the vital role of China

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Climate change presents much of the world, and possibly most of it in the long term, with chronic human insecurity. More than any other country, China has become a central actor in the practical and political aspects of this problem. On a practical level, it is the largest national source of greenhouse gases (GHGs) causing global warming, and the rapid increase in its GHG emissions means that its contribution to climate change will continue to grow for some time. Politically, China's role in climate change diplomacy is crucial to so-far failed efforts by states to reach consensus on robust efforts to reduce GHG pollution and to respond to the inevitable consequences of climate change. China's domestic policy responses to the problem convey important signals that will influence the behaviour of other national actors. Without China playing a major part in efforts to curb GHG pollution, notably through limitations on its future emissions, international efforts to mitigate global warming substantially will certainly fail.
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Keywords: China; Chinese foreign policy; climate change; climate change policy; environmental diplomacy; environmental security; global environmental politics; global warming

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Social Sciences,Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong

Publication date: 01 June 2011

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