China’s Target of 20% Renewables by 2030, Considerably Harder

Tripling the share of non-fossil fuels will require a major overhaul of China’s recalcitrant power sector and the full deployment of a fledgling emissions trading system, they said in the journal Nature Communications. 

China Renewables 2030

China can easily meet its Paris climate pledge to peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, but sourcing 20 percent of its energy needs from renewables and nuclear power by that date may be considerably harder, researchers have said.

Tripling the share of non-fossil fuels will require a major overhaul of China’s recalcitrant power sector and the full deployment of a fledgling emissions trading system, they said in the journal Nature Communications. 

There is a lot at stake. If the world’s top carbon polluter fails to achieve these and other voluntary targets, the 2015 treaty’s cornerstone goal of capping global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius may remain out of reach. 

China has also pledged to expand carbon-absorbing forests by 4,500 square kilometers before 2030, compared to 2005 levels. 

“China is on track to achieve its climate commitments,” lead author Kelly Sims, director of The Fletcher School’s Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University, to reporters. 

“It is not pulling back from implementing the Paris Agreement even though US President Donald Trump signaled his intention to do so.” Over the last decade, China has positioned itself as a global leader on climate action, enacting a raft of policies to slow the growth of its carbon footprint and, eventually, make it shrink. 

Global warming, however, has not always been the main — or even the primary — target. 

“The vast majority of China’s policies have co-benefits for energy security, economic reform, and reduced ground-level pollution,” Sims told AFP.  More than a million, up to 2.8 million, according to a recent study, premature deaths in China each year are attributed to foul air. 

The only major climate policy exclusively aimed at reducing CO2 levels is China’s emissions trading scheme (ETS). Introduced in 2017, it is set to cover more than 1,700 power companies and some three billion tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions. 

“The main challenge is completing power sector reform,” said Sims. “There is political resistance from owners of existing coal plants, and from the provinces with major coal production and coal use.” 

“But China cannot stop climate change alone,” Sims said. “All of the major industrialised countries will need to reduce their emissions, and rapidly developing countries will need to implement alternative growth strategies with the help of wealthier countries.”

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Ayush Verma

Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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