Winter Olympics to Test China’s Commitments to Climate Change

(Bloomberg) -- In the summer of 2008, Beijing did what seemed impossible: it brought blue skies to the notoriously smoggy city for a month as part of a pledge to bring pollution under control for the Olympics. Now, as China gears up for the winter games, the stakes are arguably even higher as the global focus on climate change puts the country under new levels of scrutiny.

As the world’s top polluter, China is hoping to use the occasion to demonstrate its commitment to fighting climate change, and push back against criticisms that its rhetoric and policies amount to little more than greenwashing. To that end, the Beijing Organizing Committee has pledged to host a “low carbon” games via a slew of measures.

However, beyond just proving that it can host a green or even carbon neutral event, China is also under pressure to show that it’s able to employ technologies that can have a lasting impact beyond the games. That won’t be easy, especially as a slowing economy puts even more pressure on officials to balance the need for jobs and growth with the country’s energy transition.