China has given environmentalists a lot of encouraging signs in recent years. Its highly polluting heavy industries have been slowing down, as has its coal consumption. In November, President Xi Jinping announced that the country would take steps to allow its emissions to peak around 2030, while simultaneously ramping up renewables. Increasingly, it seems like the country may be on track to hit that goal even earlier — perhaps by 2025.

But now, China’s economy has hit a rough patch. Its stock market crashed last month, and, earlier in August, the government devalued China’s currency, the yuan, in what by some measures is the currency’s largest depreciation in 20 years. The International Monetary Fund is predicting that China may not even hit its growth target of 7 percent this year, which was already far more modest than the double-digit growth China had been experiencing just five years ago.

In Western countries, signs of economic insecurity can lead to panicky calls to throw pro-environmental policies out the window. And China, historically, has displayed quite an appetite for cheap, dirty coal. Is there a danger that, in the face of an economic slowdown, China’s policymakers will take a step backward?