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In 1896, American engineers faced a dilemma: what should power their new invention, the automobile? Henry Ford’s idea of a gasoline-powered car persuaded Thomas Edison not to pursue an electric model.1 Over a century later, the threat of climate change and the potential environmental benefits of electric vehicles have led the world’s two largest CO2 emitters to make the development of EVs part of their efforts to transition to a lower-carbon economy.
U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue Announcements on Climate Change and Low-Carbon TechnologyPosted by Geoffrey Henderson on Jul 10, 2014
Cooperation on climate change and air pollution were important themes of this week’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Beijing, an annual meeting among high-level diplomats from both nations. The U.S. and Chinese representatives discussed their respective efforts to develop targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and announced a series of agreements under the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group.
This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog:
China and the United States established eight new pacts this week to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
- China has been experimenting with many different policies to control carbon and energy intensity
- By updating building codes to international best practices, China could save in 20 years an equivalent of the amount of CO2 that would be emitted by 15 large coal fired power plants over 20 years.
- If China continues to improve fuel efficiency standards at its current rate, it will save the equivalent of the amount of CO2 that would be emitted by 10 large coal fired power plants over 20 years.
- By expanding from pilots to a national level policy, the use of environmental priorities in selecting what electricity sources to use to respond to increased demand could significantly reduce coal use in the power sector.
- China has a long term target to reduce the carbon intensity of the economy by 40-45% from 2005 levels by 2020
- China also has binding targets to reduce energy intensity by 16% from 2010 levels by 2015 and carbon intensity by 17% from 2010 levels by 2015
- China has a target to reduce coal consumption as a percentage of primary energy to below 65% by 2017
- China has ambitious targets for renewable energy in 2015, 2017, and 2020
- Currently, China gets about 9% of its total primary energy from non-fossil sources. Official targets aim to increase the share of primary energy from non-fossil sources to at least 11.4% in 2015 and 15% in 2020.
- Hydropower: China currently has the largest hydropower capacity in the world, with about 229 gigawatts (GW) currently, and a target of 290 GW for 2015.
- Wind Power: China ranks 1st in the world in installed wind power capacity, with about 89 GW. China is also the world’s fastest-growing installer of wind, and it aims to have 100 GW of wind installed by 2015.
- Solar: China is also attempting to dramatically scale up solar power, planning to have at least 35 GW of installed solar by 2015, and currently has around 19 GW installed.
- Investment: China was the number one investor in renewable energy in 2013, accounting for nearly a fifth of global investment.
- Q: Is it true that China is not doing anything to address climate change?
A: No, it is not true. China is taking action on multiple fronts to address the climate problem.
- Q: Is it true that China’s coal use and greenhouse gas emissions are inevitably going to continue to rise throughout the 21st century regardless of what China tries to do?
A: No. China’s carbon emissions and coal use rose significantly in the 2000s, but have begun slowing down in recent years.
- Q: Does it make sense for the U.S. to take climate action given what we know about China’s next steps on climate?
A: Yes. China is now at a turning point regarding air quality and climate action.