China key to climate change fight

China’s green efforts ‘most important factor in global fight against climate change’ – report says.

China’s progress for tackling the climate crisis has been described as “remarkable” and “possibly the single most important factor” in the world’s battle against the climate crisis.

CREA, Helsinki

The opinions and analysis has been published in the annual climate transition report for China by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), a Helsinki-based think tank.

Despite concern over a rebound in emissions with a predicted rise of 4 percent in 2023 – due mainly to the country dropping its Covid restrictions – the report, compiled from a poll of 89 experts from industry and academia, said China was on track to realize its dual carbon goals of having a CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.

With world leaders gathering in Dubai for COP28 from Thursday until December 12, the Chinese were also applauded for its strategy aligning with the ambitions borne from the 2015 Paris Agreement in limiting the planet’s temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“China’s success in meeting and exceeding its current climate targets is possibly the single most important factor in the global fight against climate change,” the report said in its summary.

“The most important development of 2023 is that China’s deployment of clean energy generation has reached the scale projected in 1.5-degree scenarios, a remarkable achievement that was predicted in last year’s assessment. Maintaining annual additions of clean electricity production capacity at the 2023 level or increasing them further will enable China to peak and decline its CO2 emissions in the coming years.”

Report found several indicators on track for China: 
● Clean energy investments 
● Electrification 
● Building sector coal use 
● Steel and cement output 
● Construction materials sector emissions 
● Electric vehicle sales

The report highlighted that China’s CO2 emissions had “rebounded forcefully in 2023,” claiming this was caused by a collapse in hydropower generation because of the historic drought driving up coal-fired power generation; and the re-opening of the economy after three years of Covid policies, with oil consumption in particular increasing.

However, because of record growth in investment in new low-carbon energy sources, such as solar, wind power and electric vehicles, China’s carbon emissions look set to peak this year before falling into a “structural decline” for the first time from 2024.

China isn’t yet on track to start reducing emissions at the rates required in climate transition pathways, said the report, adding that “unwavering effort and collective collaboration across society” was needed to realize the “challenging task” of significantly reducing carbon emissions.

There is, though, a feeling of optimism among the experts who are all involved in policy-making, scientific and technological research, and commercial activities.

Indicative CO2 emissions pathways for China. /BP Statistical Review of World's Energy; CREA analysis

Indicative CO2 emissions pathways for China. /BP Statistical Review of World’s Energy; CREA analysis

CREA China analyst Chengcheng Qiu told CGTN Europe: “While China’s CO2 emissions are still increasing, there are indications that the growth of clean energy and technology could lead to an earlier peak in carbon emissions. The timing and level of this peak will have a significant impact on China’s path to carbon neutrality.”

Lauri Myllyvirta, lead analyst at the CREA and author of the report, added: “After the tremendous growth in clean energy in 2023, it is clear that China has the ability to peak CO2 emissions imminently, if policymakers so decide. 

“Continued clean energy growth after this year would enable China to meet all of its energy demand growth from clean energy sources and start pushing down the use of fossil fuels.”

** Data for the analysis was compiled from the National Bureau of Statistics of China, National Energy Administration of China, China Electricity Council and China Customs official data releases, and from WIND Information, an industry data provider.

Source: CGTN, 27-Nov-2023.–1p07P0TYW2c/index.html