What should China do?

  • Peak emission much earlier than 2025
  • Adopt absolute carbon cap covering all GHGs
  • Reduce carbon intensity by at least 70%-75% 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
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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

  • In 2021, China has ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, modestly enhanced its NDC and submitted its LTS, and committed to support Belt and Road countries in their low-carbon transition efforts, and to stop all coal finance overseas. Climate diplomatic engagement was certainly not without challenges, but it was somewhat separated from the more contentious areas with the West. Two US-China joint statements were issued last year.
  • Climate momentum started to wane since H2 2021. Slow growth is making the government to pivot back to heavy industries and coal. While this process has been more measured than before, sporadic COVID outbreaks and the economic turbulence from the recent arms conflict in Ukraine may intensify it. Meanwhile, Beijing is confident that its strategic judgement of US climate politics is right all along, that Washington could hardly come up with anything more than a target on paper.
  • Beijing will play a critical role in linking biodiversity and climate as it hosts the CBD COP15 in Kunming (likely late Aug). This presents opportunities to enhance China’s climate ambition on long-neglected sectors (land use and forest)

Strengths

  • Successful implementation of current NDC and likely overachievement
  • Unilateral NDC enhancement and carbon neutrality commitment

Opportunities

  • China sees climate cooperation as a way to calm overall geopolitical tension, international engagement still plays an important role in shaping China’s decisions.
  • The potential Chinese contribution to greening the energy system of much of the developing world is untapped.
  • Enhanced NDC yield co-benefits on air pollution, for economic restructuring, jobs, energy security

Weaknesses

  • Economic ministry (NDRC) leading climate policy now and is not prioritizing ambition
  • Unclear short-term pathway
  • Management of non-CO2 GHGs lagging behind
  • Challenges to reform energy market makes adding more coal the easy solution

Threats

  • The Ukraine crisis adding tension to China’s relationship with the West, making climate a collateral damage.
  • Measures such as CBAM and the climate club strengthening China’s perception that climate action is about containing China’s growth.
  • Overall global attention diverted away from climate change as a result of Ukraine.

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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