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Carbon peak, neutrality goals attainable

Ouyang Shijia and Zhou Lanxu
Updated: September 23, 2022 11:30    China Daily

China is taking solid steps to peak carbon dioxide emissions and achieve carbon neutrality amid ongoing efforts to foster a new development paradigm and pursue high-quality development, the country's top economic regulator said on Sept 22.

Liu Dechun, director of the Department of Resource Conservation and Environmental Protection at the National Development and Reform Commission, said China has the ability to peak CO2 emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060 as planned.

Citing official data, Liu said China has already made considerable progress in its green and low-carbon transformation of energy during the past decade.

China's clean energy consumption accounted for 25.5 percent of total energy consumption in 2021, an increase of 11 percentage points from 2012. Meanwhile, the share of coal consumption stood at 56 percent last year, a decrease of 12.5 percentage points over 2012.

Notably, China's installed capacity for generating wind and photovoltaic power increased by around 12-fold from 2012, and the nation's new energy power generation output has exceeded 1 trillion kilowatt-hours for the first time.

China's installed capacity of renewable energy has now surpassed 1.1 billion kilowatts, with installed capacity for hydropower, wind, solar and biomass power generation gaining top spots worldwide.

Between 2012 and 2021, China's energy consumption per unit of GDP dropped 26.4 percent, and CO2 emissions and water consumption per unit of GDP dipped 34.4 percent and 45 percent, respectively.

Looking ahead, Liu said the country will continue to implement measures mapped out by the "1+N "policy system for carbon peak and carbon neutrality, in which "1" is the guiding opinion and "N" is the detailed scheme of various industries.

More efforts will also be made to promote the green and low-carbon transformation of energy, accelerate the push for industrial upgrading, boost innovation of green and low-carbon technologies, and improve policies to promote healthy development of the carbon trading market.

Citing official data, Wayne Huang, a Shanghai-based counsel at Linklaters, said the national exchange for carbon emissions trading has replaced the European Union Emissions Trading System as the world's largest carbon trading system by coverage, with over 2,000 companies in the power sector and covering over 4.5 billion metric tons of CO2 per year.

Looking at longer term, Huang said China's carbon market can benefit greatly from the participation of international institutions.

He added that a few of the existing pilot carbon trading markets in China allow limited participation by international institutions. But due to limitations in entry thresholds and cross-border fund flows, carbon trading activities by foreign institutions have been limited. This, however, may change with the proposed creation of a unified carbon market in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

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