4. Striving for Carbon Dioxide Peaking and Carbon Neutrality
To achieve the goals of peaking carbon emissions and subsequent carbon neutrality is one of China's major strategies, defined after careful consideration. This is a must-do in order to relieve the serious constraints imposed by resources and the environment on China's economic growth, and to achieve sustainable development. It is also a solemn commitment towards building a global community of shared future. China has incorporated this decision into its overall economic and social development, adopting a holistic approach and balancing the relationships between economic growth and emissions reduction, between overall and regional interests, and between short, medium, and long-term growth. Led by the green economic and social transition, China is focusing on green and low-carbon development of the energy sector, and accelerating the formation of industrial structures, production modes, ways of work and life and spatial configurations that help to conserve resources and protect the environment. It is fully committed to high-quality development that prioritize eco-environmental protection and green and low-carbon way of life.
5. Synergizing the Reduction of Pollution and Carbon Emissions
Carbon dioxide and other ordinary pollutants often come from the same sources, mainly from the burning and utilization of fossil fuels. Controlling the use of fossil fuels and consequently reducing carbon emissions have a lasting impact on the economic structure, energy mix, forms of transport, modes of production, and ways of life. It will boost high-quality development by pressing for the green transition of the economy; it will be conducive to mitigating climate change and the damage it causes to life, property, society, and the economy; it will facilitate the source control of pollution, achieving synergy between pollution and carbon reduction and improvement of the eco-environment; it will help conserve biodiversity and improve ecosystems. China sees pollution prevention and control as an integral part of the response to climate change. Through structural adjustment, optimized configuration, policy synergy and innovative mechanisms, efforts to reduce pollution and carbon emissions are planned and carried out in tandem, and the performance assessment of the two is also conducted jointly. Balancing environmental, climate and economic gains, China has found a unique path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions that conforms to its actual conditions.
II. Implementing a National Strategy of Actively Responding to Climate Change
As the largest developing country, with a population of over 1.4 billion, China faces major challenges across a range of important areas including economic development, improving the people's lives, pollution control, and eco-environmental protection. In order to meet its targets in response to climate change, China has risen to these challenges and formulated and implemented a variety of strategies, regulations, policies, standards, and actions.
1. Intensifying Efforts in Response to Climate Change
It will not be easy for China to achieve its new NDC targets; it will take approximately 30 years of painstaking effort to transit from peak carbon emissions to achieving carbon neutrality and the largest reduction in carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP (“carbon intensity”) in the world. Walking the talk, China has already begun to implement positive and effective moves in its strategy to peak carbon emissions and achieve carbon neutrality.
Improving overall planning and coordination in response to climate change. The response to climate change covers a wide range of areas; therefore, to improve coordination and pool strengths, China has set up a national leading group headed by Premier of the State Council and with officials from 30 ministries and commissions as members. Its remit is responding to climate change, conserving energy, and reducing emissions, and all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government (PARMs) have set up corresponding groups. In April 2018, China adjusted the functions of relevant government departments, and put the newly established Ministry of Ecology and Environment in charge of responding to climate change, thus reinforcing the coordination between responding to climate change and protecting the eco-environment. In 2021, China set up a special leading group to guide and coordinate the work related to peaking carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality. All PARMs have established leading groups for peaking carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality, so as to strengthen the coordination of their efforts.
Incorporating the response to climate change into national economic and social development plans. Starting from the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), China has incorporated reducing carbon intensity into the outline of the plans for national economic and social development as binding targets, and defined key tasks, priority areas, and major projects. China's Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 sets a binding target of slashing carbon intensity by 18 percent from 2020 to 2025. All PARMs have taken on the response to climate change as an important part of the 14th Five-Year Plan, and set themselves specific targets and tasks.
Establishing a mechanism of breaking down and meeting the targets for responding to climate change. To meet its targets, China has set tiered provincial-level carbon emission caps for its PARMs based on factors such as their development stage, resource endowment, strategic positioning, and eco-environmental protection. It has assessed the performance of the relevant governments in meeting the targets and fulfilling the responsibilities for controlling greenhouse gas emissions, and uses the results as an important reference for the comprehensive performance assessment and appraisal of officials holding principal posts and leadership teams in the PARMs, as well as for the appointment, reward, sanction, and removal of officials. PARM governments have also assessed the performance of administrative divisions at lower levels in meeting their targets and fulfilling their responsibilities for controlling greenhouse gas emissions, thus ensuring that the effort is coordinated and effective.
Continuing to update NDC targets. In 2015, China set its nationally determined action objectives by 2030: to peak carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 at the latest and make every effort to peak early. By the end of 2019, China had delivered on its 2020 climate action target ahead of schedule. In 2020, China announced new NDC targets and measures. China aims to: Peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Lower its carbon intensity by over 65 percent by 2030 from the 2005 level. Increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 25 percent by 2030. Increase the forest stock volume by 6 billion cubic meters by 2030 from the 2005 level. Bring its total installed capacity of wind and solar power to over 1.2 billion kW by 2030. Compared with the objectives set in 2015, the new targets are more ambitious in timeframe. They involve a steeper cut in carbon intensity, an increase of another five percentage points in the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption, a new target for installed capacity of non-fossil fuels, an additional forest stock of 1.5 billion cubic meters, and a clear announcement to aim for carbon neutrality before 2060. China has announced in 2021 a decision to stop building new coal-fired power projects overseas, demonstrating its concrete actions in response to climate change.
Accelerating work on 1+N policies for peaking carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality. The country has formulated and released a top-level design document for peaking carbon emissions and achieving carbon neutrality, and is working on an action plan for peaking carbon emissions before 2030, with implementation plans for fields and sectors such as energy, industry, urban and rural construction, transport, and agriculture and rural areas. Support plans are being created in areas such as science and technology, fiscal funding, finance, pricing, carbon sinks, energy transition and coordination of pollution reduction and carbon emission reduction, with clearer timetables, roadmaps, and working plans. The country is shaping policies and actions with clear objectives, reasonable assignment of labor, effective measures, and sound coordination, ensuring that all efforts deliver positive results.