China’s dedicated energy transition policy is showing positive results

Climate change poses a significant threat to China’s long-term prosperity. China is the largest carbon emitter in the world. The country contributes 30% of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. More than half of the world’s steel and cement comes from China. And, the CO2 emissions from just these two industries are more than those of the entire European Union.

On the flip side, the constant debate, and the realities of climate change have led to some drastic changes in the energy sector of China. The country is on the roadmap to make some crucial changes.

Read more: China has a clear pathway to build a more sustainable, secure and inclusive energy future

The Roadmap

 Installation of solar photovoltaic panels on the roofs of the Hongqiao Passenger Rail Terminal in Shanghai, China.
CHINA SHANGHAI HONGQIAO Installation of solar photovoltaic panels on the roofs of the Hongqiao Passenger Rail Terminal in Shanghai, China. There are a total of 23000 solar panels planned for the CECIC-funded project, each panel with a production capacity of 280 KWh to feed into the electricity grid. jre/Photo by Jiri Rezac © Jiri Rezac 2010

The China Roadmap sets out a pathway consistent with the enhanced ambitions that China announced last year. In the roadmap, CO2 emissions reach a peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality is achieved before 2060. The roadmap also explores the possibility of even faster green transitioning in China. 

Read more: China Energy Transition Status Report 2021

14th five-year plan

Among all of the documents issued by China under the “1+N” policy framework for enforcing its climate pledges, the energy plan specifically on renewable energy may be the most important to China’s decarbonization. To increase the share of energy coming from non-fossil fuel sources from 15.9% in 2020 to 20% by 2025, the plan lays out a framework with a series of targets and actions.

The plans covered are renewable energy production in million tonnes of coal equivalent (Mtce), overall and for non-electricity supplies; renewable electricity generation in terawatt hours (TWh); and renewable energy share in the grid (%), overall and for non-hydro sources.

Read more: Guest post: Will China’s new renewable energy plan lead to an early emissions peak? – Carbon Brief 

The new increases ambition to complete the required goals. For example, it requires “newly increased renewable generation [to] account for more than 50% of the incremental electricity consumption”. In other words, renewables must cover at least half of the increase in demand. In the last two years according to reports, China has already outperformed its goals.

Country, Climate and Development Report (CDCR)

The new report by World Bank- Country, Climate and Development Report (CDCR) for China analyses the fundamental changes in energy, industry, transportation, cities, and land use that would allow China to meet its national commitments to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 and peak carbon emissions before 2030.

The report includes extensive policy recommendations such as-

  • Accelerate the power sector transition by increasing solar and wind power generation capacity by 2030 to 1,700 gigawatts from the current target of 1,200 gigawatts, and enhancing the integration of renewables by investing in energy storage.
  • Accelerating electrification in private and commercial vehicles and providing adequate charging infrastructure.
  • Providing a just transition for the regions and communities most impacted by the transition away from fossil fuels, such as by improving labor mobility and developing a comprehensive labor policy package that includes training and reskilling, as well as compensation for laid-off workers.
  • In the building sector, developing disclosure requirements and improving green standards.

Many more such recommendations are in the report.

READ MORE: China’s Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy and Climate Resilience Needs Shifts in Resources and Technologies 

Conclusion

China’s transition to green energy and carbon neutrality will be a long and difficult road. The economic costs will remain manageable due to the growing economic power of the region. The policies indicate that China is taking practical steps to ensure the transition. It is important for policymakers to keep in mind suggestions by the experts. However, also ensure small households and vulnerable communities are supported.

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