At the end of the summit between the European Union and China last Friday on June 2, 2017, the two global powers fell short of producing an expected joint statement on climate change because they remained divided on trade issues, as Reuters and Deutsche Welle report. Disagreement over steel production and the refusal of the read more…
|Year||Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF ( MtCO2e)||Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per Capita ( tCO2e Per Capita)||Total GHG Emissions Excluding LUCF Per GDP ( tCO2e / Million $ GDP)|
The line chart shows the country’s carbon emissions by year, expressed in million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (MtCO2e) for emission totals, and in tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e) for per capita and per dollar of GDP values. It is based on data from CAIT platform provided by the World Resource Insititute, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.
By selecting or deselecting each item, you can compare or give prominence to particular emission trends.
|Energy Source||Production (ktoe)||TPES (ktoe)|
|Tide, wave, ocean||0,946||0,946|
The double-doughnut chart shows the country’s energy production and TPES (Total Primary Energy Supply), expressed in thousand tonnes of oil equivalent (ktoe). It is built on data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/International Energy Agency libraries, and updated regularly with the most recent data available.
The INNER RING represents the country’s energy production from each energy source, corresponding to the quantities of fuels extracted or produced.
The OUTER RING shows the country’s total primary energy supply of each fuel. It represents the net quantities of fuels made available on the domestic market, after foreign transfers and trading. According to IEA’s definition, TPES equals production plus imports minus exports minus international bunkers plus or minus stock changes.
Differences between production and TPES are significant as they highlight the actual country’s behaviour in the matter of a given energy source. Production values and TPES values of the same energy source may vary widely, especially in case of the much-traded fossil fuels.
Energy data refers to year 2012.
In 2015 China did submit its INDCs to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in advance to the COP21 in Paris (see International Policy)
The People’s Republic of China (in the continuation simply referred to as “China”) is the largest GHG emitter in the world and has the second largest global economy, but the levels of development differ widely between regions. At the same time, China is one of the main drivers of the global renewable energy development (see below).
With respect to the legislative approach, the Chinese system is classified as a civil law system. It is a semi-presidential socialist republic and a single-party state, as there is only the Communist Party of China. The National People’s Congress (NPC) has the legislative power for criminal, civil, state organ and other basic law. The Standing Committee of the NPC can make supplements and amendments to these laws, if the original provisions and contents remain unchanged. The most important policy documents in China are the Five Year Plans, which specify the intended economic development over the coming five years and determine the overall direction of policy. They contain multiple targets in different issue-areas. The NPC passes complementary laws in order to implement the Plans and to achieve the targets contained therein.
Xi Jinping is the current President of the People’s Republic of China and thus the Head of State. At the same time, he is the General Secretary of the Communist Party in China. Li Keqiang holds the position of the Leader of the State Council of China, which is sometimes referred to as the “Prime Minister”. Consequently, he is the Chinese Head of Government. The NPC has to approve this position upon the nomination of the President.
13th Five-Year Plan 2016-2020
In March 2016, the Chinese government officially adopted the 13th Five-Year Plan. The plan represents the country’s blueprint outlining the policy framework, priorities, economic and social development goals for the 2016-2020 period. Accordingly, economic development remains a top priority, annual growth rates of 6.5 to 7 percent are strived for. Moreover, the plan includes the goal of becoming a “moderately prosperous society” by 2020 based on the key principles of an innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development.
The document sets several targets in the area of GHG emissions, energy and water consumption as well as for the development of green infrastructure:
- Reduction of energy intensity (energy consumption per unit GDP) by 15 percent until 2020 compared to 2015;
- Reduction of carbon intensity (CO2 emissions per unit GDP) by 18 percent until 2020 below 2015 levels;
- Sectoral targets and milestones to implement these goals;
- 15 percent share of non-fossil fuel energies in the primary energy consumption
- A maximum of 58 percent share of coal in the national energy consumption by 2020;
- Energy consumption cap of 5 billion tons of standard coal equivalents;
- Ban of new coal-fired power plants until 2018;
- Cut in annual coal production capacity of 700 Mtce (equals to 14 percent of total coal production capacity);
- Goal to “maintain acceptable air quality levels in major cities for 80 percent of the days by the end of 2020”;
- Enhancement of the market for electric vehicles;
- Increase of forest coverage to 23 percent until 2020.
Full document available here (in Chinese).
Law on the Prevention and Control of Atmospheric Pollution 1987 (revised in 2015)
The law calls to take comprehensive measures against pollution caused by the burning of coal, industrial production, motor vehicles and vessels, dust and agricultural activities. For this purpose, the sources of atmospheric pollutants shall be addressed, including the ones of sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and ammonia (NH3).
The revisions of 2015 preclude the use of low-quality coal for residential use and aim to promote the clean and efficient use of coal. In addition, the percentage of coal in the primary energy consumption should be reduced. Furthermore, the law obliges the government to take action in favour of low-carbon development, including eco-friendly transportation and fuel quality standards.
Moreover, the law encompasses provisions for monitoring and enhanced transparency. The latter shall be ensued through the disclosure of information for the public, such as about air quality standards, catalogues of major polluters and contact information of environmental authorities.
National Plan to Address Climate Change 2014-2020
The National Plan to Address Climate Change 2014-2020 outlines the framework for tackling climate change in China. It includes target, defines responsibilities and defines social and environmental safeguards. Provinces and municipalities are obliged to develop their own respective plans under this framework. The Plan covers the areas of mitigation, adaptation, science and public awareness. It includes chapters under the titles “Guidelines and Main Objectives”, “Controlling Greenhouse Gas Emissions”, “Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change”, “Implementation of Pilot Demonstration Projects”, “Improving the Regional Response to Climate Change”, “Incentives and Restraint Mechanisms”, “Strengthening Scientific and Technological Support”, “Capacity Building”, “Deepening International Exchanges and Cooperation” and “Performance and Evaluation”.
The targets in the plan are to reduce carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 (corresponds to the target contained in the Copenhagen Pledge; see section on ‘International Policy’), to increase the percentage of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 15 percent and to increase the proportion of forest area and stock volume. In 2014, carbon intensity had already been reduced by 34 percent compared to 2005 levels. The share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption amounted to 11 percent that year.
12th Five-Year Plan 2011-2015
The 12th Five Year Plan guides China’s economic development from 2011 to 2015. It aims to provide for more socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth, which is why it has a strong emphasis on green energy. The plan intends to boost domestic consumption in order to transform the economy from resource-intensive production reliant on heavy industry to a more consumption-based and resource-efficient economy. It includes several targets with relevance for climate change:
- Energy intensity (energy consumption per unit of GDP) shall be reduced by 16 percent by 2015 compared to 2010;
- The percentage of non-fossil fuel energy in total energy use shall be increased to 11.4 percent;
- Carbon intensity (CO2 emissions per unit of GDP) shall be reduced by 17 percent by 2015 below 2010 levels;
- Forest coverage shall be increased to by 21.66 percent;
- The pollution caused by COD and sulphur dioxide shall be reduced by 8 percent each.
The State Council has approved a range of policies and measures to meet these targets, including differentiated carbon and energy intensity targets for single provinces and municipalities reflecting their respective capabilities and circumstances. There is also a National Leading Group for Addressing Climate Change as well as respective leading groups on the provincial level. Besides, the 12th Five-Year Plan includes a Work Plan for Controlling Greenhouse Gas Emissions and a Comprehensive Work Plan for Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction.
A summary of the 12th Five-Year Plan provided by KPMG China is available as pdf.
Climate Change Resolution 2009
With the comprehensive Climate Change Resolution, China enacted for the first time concrete climate legislation in 2009. It followed two earlier policy documents – namely, the National Climate Change Programme 2007 (see below) and the Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change 2008.
National Climate Change Programme 2007
The National Climate Change Programme was released by the Chinese government in 2007. It is a policy document that acknowledges the importance of tackling climate change and provides a guidance on the measures to adopt to achieve a sustainable development path. Despite the fact that the document addresses a wide range of issues such as adaptation and natural resources, it identifies energy as a key field, on which future mitigation efforts should be focused on. In particular, the Programme points out the need to improve action on energy production and transformation, energy efficiency improvement and energy conservation. For these fields the following measures are proposed:
- Strengthening existing legislation and creating a specific energy plan (particularly a National Energy Law) in order to improve the domestic energy legal system and mitigate emission from energy production and transformation;
- Accelerating China’s institutional innovation in the energy sector and mechanisms for investment in renewable energy development;
- Intensifying policy efforts to support the deployment of advanced technologies in the energy industry;
- Strengthening both R&D and dissemination of advanced renewable energy technologies and new technologies for energy conservation.
In addition, the programme recommends the improvement of emission reduction policies in agriculture, forestry and municipal waste.
Full document available as pdf.
Since 2010, investments in renewable energy capacity are larger than the additions in fossil fuel and nuclear energy. In 2014, the installed capacity of hydropower was 300 GW (2.6 times more than in 2005), of on-grid wind power 95 GW (90 times more than in 2005), of solar power 28 GW (400 times more than in 2005) and 20 GW nuclear power (three times more than in 2005). In 2016, China had the largest total capacity of renewable energy generation (irrespective of whether large hydropower projects are included or not) as well as the largest investment in renewable power and fuels (excluding hydropower projects greater than 50 MW), according to the Global Status Report of REN21. China ranked first in investments into hydropower, solar PV, wind power and solar water heating capacity. Furthermore, it occupied the first place in total capacity of hydropower, wind power, solar PV and solar water heating and geothermal heat capacity as well as in hydropower generation. Nevertheless, China’s electricity mix remains dominated by coal and there are high rates of curtailment of renewable energies due to challenges to integrate renewables into the grid, which is turn caused by the inadequate progress in grid expansion.
Energy Development Strategy Action Plan 2014-2020
The State Council has published the Action Plan in 2014, which aims to reduce the high energy intensity (energy consumption per unit GDP) and to promote efficient and innovative energy production. As such, it contains the following goals:
- Increase the share of non-fossil fuels in the primary energy mix from 9.8 percent in 2013 to 15 percent by 2020 and to 20 percent by 2030. The share of natural gas shall be increased to above 10 percent.
- Installed capacity of hydro-, wind and solar power in 2020 shall reach 350 GW, 200 GW and 100 GW, respectively. Installed nuclear capacity is supposed to be raised to 58 GW by 2020 with additional 30 GW under construction.
- Increase energy self-sufficiency to around 85 percent.
- Cap coal use at 4.2 billion tons by 2020 and reduce the share of coal in primary energy to less than 62 percent by 2020.
- The annual primary energy consumption should grow by no more than 3.5 percent until 2020.
White Paper on Energy Policy 2012
The White Paper was released in 2012 by the State Council, the White Paper identifies the main challenges in the national energy sector and provides a plan to further develop its energy supply system to meet ever growing energy demand. The White Paper reiterates the non-fossil fuels energy target included in the 12th Five-Year Plan. According to the document, renewable energy sources are key strategic instruments for promoting a diversified and clean energy development and fostering new strategic industries. For these purposes, China will develop hydropower, solar power and wind power generation, seek safe and efficient ways of developing nuclear power, as well as utilise biomass energy and other types of renewable energy. In addition, 200 green-energy counties and 1,000 villages using solar energy as demonstrations are planned to be implemented by 2015.
Medium and Long-Term Development Plan for Renewable Energy in China
In the Medium and Long-Term Development Plan for Renewable Energy in China, finalized in 2007, the government established a Mandatory Market Share (MMS) for non-hydro renewable power generation and sets an objective of 10 percent renewable power in total primary energy consumption by 2010, and a 15 percent by 2020.
Full document available as pdf.
The Renewable Energy Law 2005
The law, which was passed in February 2005, has the objective to create a regulatory framework for the promotion of renewable energy sources, the improvement of the energy system and the diversification of energy supplies in order to support a sustainable development of Chinese economy.
Key measures foreseen are the introduction of a mandatory connection policy, which obligates electric utilities to purchase a share of renewable energy from generators that meet certain technical requirements for connection, a feed-in tariff for biomass and government-managed prices for wind power. In addition, the law launches a renewable energy development fund, which collects surcharge on electricity sales (0.04 CNY/kWh, around 0.006 US $/kWh) to compensate utilities’ costs, promotes research on renewable energy and develops projects.
Emended at the end of 2009, the law delegates to energy authorities the definition of many details and specific targets.
Full document available as pdf.
Further plans for the promotion of renewable energies
There are several research programmes on renewable energies, including geothermal investigations and explorations. Moreover, in 2012, the State Council released a note on ‘Several options on the Sound Development of the Photovoltaic Industry’. The note included policies and measures to accelerate the uptake of solar energy. Additionally, ‘Development Plans’ have been established for solar, biomass and geothermal energy.
Non-renewable energy programmes in China
In addition to the plans to increase electricity generation and energy consumption from renewable energies, there are several plans relating to other energy sources:
- The Action Plan on the Efficient Use of Coal 2015-2020 aims to decrease coal use by 160 million tonnes until 2020. In addition, there are Specific Plans for Clean Coal Technology of 2012, as clean coal technology is highlighted as one priority in the 12th Five-Year Plan.
- Natural Gas Development Plan
- China’s Nuclear Programme was suspended after the Fukushima Disaster in 2011 but restarted in 2012.
Energy Conservation Law 1997 (revised in 2007)
The law aims at incorporating energy conservation and efficiency into economic and social planning, focusing on the rational use of energy and decreasing the environmental impact of energy use.
Full document available as pdf.
Further actions addressing energy demand
In China, there are a great number of projects in the area of high-efficiency, energy saving technologies, modal products and industries, contracted energy management, developing energy-saving monitoring institutions, energy-saving buildings and green lighting. A ‘Special Blueprint for Conserving Energy in the Construction Sector’ was issued as part of the 12th Five-Year Plan. Moreover, there are an Action Plan for Energy Conservation, Emission Reduction and Low-Carbon Development 2014-2015 and an Action Plan of Industries Addressing Climate Change 2012-2020.
Besides national initiatives, seven different emissions trading pilot schemes have been launched between 2013 and 2014 in the Guangdong and Hubei provinces as well as in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing and Shenzhen. These schemes are acting as a pace-setters for the design of the national ETS.
The 13th Five-Year Plan tasks the government with developing rules and regulations for the management of the national carbon trading programme based on the existing pilot scheme. The programme is expected to be launched around 2018.
Emissions in the transport sector have increased sharply in recent years and are expected to see further growth in the next few years. In 2010, China became the world’s largest market for automobiles and the sale of passenger vehicles is still on the rise. At the same time, China is a frontrunner in electric vehicles and has also the world’s largest market for electric vehicles.
The Ministry of Transport has introduced the “Special Action on Low-Carbon Transportation” for 1,000 companies. Moreover, the Guidelines for Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation are supposed to encourage local governments to establish respective transportation systems. Besides, there are pilot green car projects (e.g. “10 cities, 1,000 green cars”) and 26 cities have been selected to pilot low-carbon transportation systems.
In 2013, the State Forestry Administration has issued the “Plan on the Division of Work on Enhancing the Forest’s Role in Tackling Climate Change to Implement the Durban Climate Change Conference Agreement”. It outlines a wide range of measures that should be implemented until 2020. Moreover, China promotes decisively afforestation projects.
China’s National Strategy of Climate Change Adaptation 2013
The Strategy, which was announced in November 2013, outlines a wide range of measures to be implemented by 2020, including improving early-warning systems for natural disasters, promoting better farming practices, managing water resources, protecting nature and wildlife, strengthening public health and improving infrastructure. The strategy also proposes measures to protect some of China’s most vulnerable regions. The comprehensive strategy aims to strengthen adaptation for regions and populations that are weak and vulnerable to climate change.
Several provinces have passed provincial climate change laws and legislation. Moreover, China often pilots policies and mechanisms at the subnational level, such as the emissions trading pilot schemes (see above).
Furthermore, there is a concept of low-carbon cities and provinces. Initially five provinces and eight cities were selected for this programme, a number that was expanded to 29 in 2012 and 42 in 2015 (including for instance as well Beijing and Shanghai).
Website of the China Climate Change Info-Net.
Country profile on China on the website of the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
Quitzow, R. (2016): ‘China: Emerging Global Power in Clean Energy?’. In: Roehrkasten, S., Thielges, S. and Quitzow, R. (eds), Sustainable Energy in the G20 – Prospects for a Global Energy Transition, Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Potsdam, Germany.
- Party to the UNFCCC (Non-Annex I):
- Date of signature: 11 June 1992
- Date of ratification: 5 January 1993
- Date of entry into force: 21 March 1994
- Member of the Kyoto Protocol (country with no emission reduction commitments):
- Date of signature: 29 May 1998
- Date of approval: 30 August 2002
- Date of entry into force: 16 February 2005
- Date of approval Doha Amendment: 2 June 2014
- Signatory of the Copenhagen Accord: pledged reduction of CO2 intensity (CO2 emissions per unit GDP) between 40 and 45 percent by 2020 compared to 2005 levels; 15 percent increase in the share of non‐fossil fuels in primary energy consumption by 2020; and increase of forest coverage by 40 million hectares and of forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from the 2005 levels.
- Party to the Paris Agreement
- Date of signature: 22 April 2016
- Date of ratification: 3 September 2016
- Date of entry into force: 4 November 2016
- Post 2020 action
- Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) submitted in advance of the COP21 (Paris), in 2015 (for more information on INDCs see here). Following the ratification and the entry into force of the Paris Agreement, the INDC has become China’s first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
- Main actions included in the NDC:
– Peaking CO2 emissions before 2030 and making the best efforts to peak earlier;
– Reducing carbon intensity (CO2 emissions per unit GDP) by 60 to 65 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels;
– Increasing the share non-fossil fuel sources in the primary energy consumption to 20 percent by 2030;
– Expanding the forest stock volume by 4.5 billion cubic meters over 2005 levels,
– Continue to proactively adapt to climate change
- Emissions may have already peaked due to ongoing reductions in coal use, but the lack of commitments on non-CO2 GHGs could still drive a rise in emissions. Moreover, if the decreases in coal consumption do not continue, emissions may rise again as well. The current decrease in coal use is mainly driven by the decline in economic growth compared to the early 2000s and the policy change to lower coal use to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions (for more information see Korsbakken and Peters 2017; Qi et al. 2016; Peters 2017).
- Measures for implementation:
– Implementing proactive national strategies on climate change, including the formulation of China’s long-term strategy and roadmap for low-carbon development
– Improving regional strategies on climate change
– Building low-carbon energy system: control and lower coal consumption, enhancement of use of clean coal, expansion of natural gas use to a share of 10 percent in primary energy consumption by 2020 and development of renewable energies with an installed capacity of 200 GW wind power and 100 GW solar power by 2020
– Building efficient and low-carbon industrial systems, including the phase-down of HFCs (HFC-22 production reduction of 35 percent by 2020 from 2010 levels and 67.5 percent by 2025; control of HFC-23 emissions by 2020)
– Controlling emissions fro building and transportation sectors, including the promotion of the share of green buildings in newly built buildings of cities and towns reaching 50 percent by 2020 and improvement of the public transport share in big- and medium-sized cities to 30 percent by 2020
– Increasing carbon sinks
– Promoting a low-carbon lifestyle
– Enhancing overall climate resilience
– Innovating low-carbon development growth patterns
– Enhancing support in terms of science and technology
– Increasing financial and policy support, including green credit mechanisms
– Promoting carbon emission trading markets
– Improving statistical and accounting systems for GHG emissions
– Broad participation of stakeholders
– Promoting international cooperation on climate change: establish the Fund for South-South Cooperation on Climate Change to provide assistance and support to other developing countries.
- The Climate Action Tracker rates the Chinese NDC “medium”, indicating that it is not in line with the below 2°C target. China’s policies and actions are projected to result in an overachievement of the NDC targets.
- The bilateral cooperation with the US during the presidency of Barack Obama in the field of climate change was of major importance. With the Joint-Announcement in 2014, the both countries indicated the targets that were finally contained in their INDCs. Moreover, the announcement contains the reference to the “principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances”, as extended compared to the formulation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This represented an important agreement on the way to the Paris COP21. The Joint Presidential Statement of 2015 recalls these aspects and writes down the vision of the two countries for the agreement to be agreed a few months later in Paris. It also enhances the bilateral cooperation of the both countries. Finally, the Joint Presidential Statement of 2016 expresses the will of the both countries to sign and ratify the Paris Agreement, which was implemented at the side-lines of the G20 summit in China in September 2016.
- China has also a longstanding cooperation with the European Union on climate Change. In 2006, the EU-China Partnership on Climate Change was agreed upon, which represents a high-level political framework to strengthen cooperation. It does not only serve as a dialogue forum but also as a basis for technical collaboration. The latter focuses particularly on the development and deployment of clean energy technology, including “zero-emissions” coal technology. At a summit between China and the EU in June 2017 shortly after the announcement of US president Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the both global powers fell short of producing an expected joint statement on climate change. However, this was largely attributed to disagreements on trade issues.
- China is a member of the Group of Twenty (G20). During its residency in 2016, it has put a special emphasis on the topic of green finance. Moreover, it is part of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. it also belong to the of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
- China is a member of Mission Innovation and has thus pledged to double public expenditure on clean energy research and development until 2020 to provide for innovations and the breakthrough of clean energy technologies.
- Moreover, China is a member of the Global Methane Initiative (GMI), which aims to reduce methane emissions, as well as of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF).
- Generally, China has an evolving interest in influencing and shaping the international energy policy agenda. China is said to have a strong interest in the continued growth of foreign markets for its renewable energy industry. However, as of 2016, more than 90 percent of Chinese foreign direct investment has supported projects for fossil fuel production and energy generation. In fact, China is the world’s largest exporter of coal power plant finance and technology.
According to China, developed countries should take the lead of international action on reducing GHG emissions because of their historical responsibility. In general, China’s position at the negotiating talks in the 2000s and before COP21 can be summarised as follows:
- Agreement to a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, which holds industrialised nations to binding commitments but allows developing nations to reduce emissions on a voluntary basis, following the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” (CBDR).
- 2015 Agreement should be legally-binding and guided by the principles and provisions of the Convention, particularly equity and CBDR. As such, it should provide for the sustained implementation of the Convention, taking into account differentiated historical responsibilities.
- In general, China advocates for open, transparent, inclusive, Party-driven and consensus-based negotiations.
- Developed countries should strengthen their commitments and take the lead to reduce their GHG emissions by undertaking ambitious economy-wide absolute quantified emission reduction targets.
- Developing countries should take voluntary contributions with enhanced mitigation actions, taking into account priority needs of development and eradication of poverty.
- International cooperation on adaptation as well as the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage should be strengthened. A subsidiary body on adaptation to climate change should be established.
- Developed countries shall provide new, additional, adequate, predictable and sustained financial support, including quantified targets and a roadmap to achieve them. The financial means should primarily come from public sources. Moreover, developed countries shall transfer technologies and provide support for R&D to developing countries. Thereby, also the issue of intellectual property rights (IPRs) should be addressed to facilitate technology transfer to developing countries. Beyond that, developed countries shall provide capacity-building support to developing countries.
- Developed countries shall enhance transparency of their actions through existing reporting and review systems, while developing countries shall enhance the transparency of enhanced actions based on existing arrangements in a way that is non-intrusive, non-punitive and respecting national sovereignty, and with support by developed countries.