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Macro-economy

Interview: China on track for sustainable, creative future: LSE economist

November 22, 2019


Abstract : China is writing a sustainable and creative growth story as the country is seeking high-quality growth by such means as structural changes in the service sector, according to a pioneering expert in the economics of climate change.

BEIJING, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- China is writing a sustainable and creative growth story as the country is seeking high-quality growth by such means as structural changes in the service sector, according to a pioneering expert in the economics of climate change.

China "has moved very quickly" in changing its growth pattern and is putting many of its advantages like human capital to work, Lord Nicholas Stern, chair of Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at London School of Economics and Political Science, told Xinhua in an interview.

Stern observed that China has been very strong in developing solar energy, and now leads the world in rail transport, which saves on air and road transport and reduces carbon emissions.

"China is very digitally advanced relative to other countries. The next step, I think, is to put that to work to manage energy, transport and urban management," he said.

He pointed out that the next thirty or forty years is going to be a period with rapid changes and technological advances in the world, and a new growth model is required to manage such changes.

"Previous growth has been driven in large measure by physical capital and human capital, but looking forward, failures of natural and social capital could undermine sustainable development," according to Stern.

"If the air becomes so toxic that we cannot breathe effectively, then our health is damaged. People will be physically less able to do things in that environment, thus undermining productivity," he said. "Now, we have to make complementary investments in all four capital areas."

Stern, also the former chief economist of the World Bank, said China's past growth was "thoughtful" and "impressive," as the country has achieved "extraordinary" progress in the previous few decades thanks to its constant planning for the future, evidenced by China's five-year plan approach.

"China has always looked ahead to the next phase of development. I think that is even more important now than it ever was," Stern said. "When you want to organize changes quickly, having a national planning structure is a big advantage."

He said China's past experience of designing reforms to foster new stages of development would enable it to plan reforms to drive the next fundamental transformation, including the adjustment of the energy mix to deal with the challenges of climate change.

China has made combating climate change a top priority and the country vowed to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 or sooner under the Paris Agreement and to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels or less by the end of the century.

"I don't want to pretend it's easy, as it needs strong organization and strong policy, but I do want to suggest that the future is very attractive," Stern said.

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Keyword: China-growth sustainable-development

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