China’s Paris pledge on climate change: inadequate and irresponsible

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This essay critically assesses China’s pledge—its “intended nationally determined contributions”—toward achieving objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. It addresses some potential misconceptions about China’s pledge, including their inadequacy relative to the scale of pollution causing climate change and the dangers posed by its impacts. China’s pledge is little more than business as usual. Significant ethical obligations arise from China’s role as the largest national source of greenhouse gas pollution and home to hundreds of millions of affluent consumers. The Paris Agreement disregards such obligations. The inadequacy and irresponsibility of China’s Paris pledge exposes some fundamental flaws in the international climate change negotiations and agreements, demonstrating that science and environmental studies cannot be disconnected from ethics and justice. Copyright © 2017, AESS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-107
JournalJournal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
Issue number1
Early online dateJan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


Harris, P. G. (2017). China’s Paris pledge on climate change: inadequate and irresponsible. Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, 7(1), 102-107. doi: 10.1007/s13412-017-0422-0


  • China
  • Climate change
  • Common but differentiated responsibility
  • Paris agreement


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