China releases first climate plan, says economic concerns are key

China has released its first-ever national climate-change plan, a 62-page document that pledges to improve energy efficiency, increase the use of renewables, develop drought-resistant crops, and expand emissions-absorbing forests. But the country’s leaders emphasized that they don’t want to sacrifice economic growth. “We must reconcile the need for development with the need for environmental protection,” said Ma Kai, head of the National Development and Reform Commission. “In its course of modernization, China will not tread the traditional path of industrialization, featuring high consumption and high emissions. In fact, we want to blaze a new path to industrialization.” Ma also called on the world to “respect the developing countries’ right to develop,” noting that industrialized countries have an “unshirkable responsibility” to fix the problem they created. Some predict that China will overtake the U.S. this year in greenhouse-gas emissions. But who will lead the way in shirking?