What should China do?

1

Enhance NDC to be 1.5 degree aligned by COP26:

  • Peak emission much earlier than 2025
  • Adopt absolute carbon cap covering all GHGs
  • Reduce carbon intensity by at least 70%-75% by 2030
  • Increase non-fossil fuel share to 25% by 2030
  • Incorporate non-CO2 targets in NDC and stabilize non-CO2 emissions by 2025
  • Clarify pathway to reach carbon neutrality before 2060
  • Phase out coal by 2040 at the latest
  • Increase the forest stock by 6 billion cubic meters by 2030 compared to 2005
2

Build a just and resilient recovery plan:

  • Invest in low-carbon transition infrastructures: RE, RE-supporting grid, zero-emission transport, building renovation, low-carbon urbanization
  • Need to stop new coal plants at home and abroad

What you need to know about China?

  • Current NDC: Peak CO2 emissions around 2030; reduce CO2 intensity of GDP by 60-65% on 2005 levels by 2030; increase share of Non-Fossil Fuel sources in total primary energy supply to ˜20% by 2030; increase the forest stock by around 4.5 billion cubic meters, compared to 2005
  • China is on track to overachieve its existing targets: by the end of 2018, carbon intensity has decreased 45.8% based on 2005 level, which surpassed the Copenhagen commitment of 40-45% set for 2020
  • In UNGA speech, Xi committed to scale up NDC, peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060
  • Political will has been reinvigorated by Xi’s surprise announcement. Ministries need some time to figure out ways forward
  • At the virtual Climate Ambition Summit last December, President Xi announced China’s new 2030 targets: lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by over 65% from 2005 levels; increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 25% by 2030; increase forest stock by 6 billion cubic meters above 2005 levels; bring the total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1,200 GW by 2030. However, China hasn’t officially submitted an updated NDC to the UNFCCC, which is expected to happen fairly soon.
Recovery Measures to Highlight

  • Pledged to prioritize new infrastructure – projects that are clean and with higher investment return
  • Coal build up is still continuing and needs to be stopped urgently

Recent developments

Recent developments

  • On Sept 22, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in his UNGA speech that China will strive to achieve carbon emission peak before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060. This was confirmed by President Xi at the 12/12 Climate Ambition Summit
  • The carbon neutrality target needs to be accompanied by consistent short term targets (FYP and NDC). In the short term, China will be working on concrete plans, with opportunities to inform the internal thinking process
  • The EU-China High-Level Dialogue on Environment and Climate gives a mandate to talk climate ambition and raise the importance of climate by linking it to the rest of the bilateral relationship
  • The 14th Five Year Plan (FYP) (2021-2025) under development by Chinese government will set priorities and targets for the next five years (followed by supporting local and sectorial FYPs) and provide the tone for China’s economic stimulus. Climate action should be channeled as an efficient stimulus for growth, jobs and a modernization of the economy
  • China has a pivotal role in shifting the global energy system, at home and abroad; leading transition to carbon-free economy is in its interest. China should support Belt and Road countries in their low-carbon transition efforts, notably by stopping all coal finance and enabling investments in clean infrastructures
  • Beijing will play a critical role in linking biodiversity and climate as it hosts the CBD COP15 in Kunming and chaired the Nature Based Solutions track of the UNSG summit. This presents opportunities to enhance China’s climate ambition on long-neglected sectors (land use and forest)

Strenghts

  • Successful implementation of current NDC and likely overachievement
  • Unilateral NDC enhancement and carbon neutrality commitment, regardless of US geopolitics

Opportunities

  • China sees climate as a way to calm overall contentious geopolitics
  • EU-China high-level dialogue is a strong cooperation window
  • Despite a difficult past four years, the change in administration in the USA can help re-build a positive and cooperative relationship on climate between the two largest emitters
  • China can be a world leader in a new paradigm of green recovery
  • Enhanced NDC yield co-benefits on air pollution, for economic restructuring, jobs, energy security

Weaknesses

  • Industrial and economic ministries unprepared for climate action after Covid, weak Ministry of Ecology and Env, lack of coordination
  • Among public and private sectors, low awareness of climate emergency and solutions
  • Unclear short-term pathway
  • China has been lagging behind on non-CO2 GHGs
  • China has been silently unconstructive on international aviation (ICAO) and maritime (IMO) emissions
  • China has yet to ratify the Kigali amendment

Threats

  • Financial & social risk of stranded assets in coal and heavy industry.
  • Uncontrolled local-led backslide by China on coal expansion. Contrast between central government and local level and sectors
  • Possible delay between domestic policies and BRI investments
  • China might loosen environment standards to restart economy

About Climate Diplomacy Snapshots

The data is clear. Accelerated and enhanced action is needed now to build resilience and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As they seek to address the ongoing health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19, governments should seize opportunities to invest in a recovery that will build social, economic and climate resilience on the long-term.The Climate Diplomacy Snapshots aim to provide the climate community with a clear overview of what each country should do, on climate and recovery, to pursue these joint objectives and keep the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C. Each has been prepared with the help of national experts, and will be regularly updated. The snapshots aim to support climate advocacy in the lead up to COP26.

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