Expert Blog

ChinaFAQs experts react to the latest headlines about China climate and energy issues.

Geoffrey Henderson
August 11, 2015

This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog:

China is increasing its ambition in addressing climate change, and it has a strong national interest in sustaining its actions. That’s according to a recent panel of experts convened by WRI’s ChinaFAQs project and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.

Paul Joffe and Geoffrey Henderson
July 22, 2015

With the current climate negotiations reaching a conclusion in Paris this coming December, we are at a pivotal moment in the global effort to address climate change and shift to a low-carbon development path. The United States and China, which together make up 38 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions (as of 2012), are playing an important role.

Yet there has been confusion about China’s climate action commitments, as well as the fact that both China and the U.S. are taking significant action. Here’s a look at China’s progress to date, and what implications it has for international climate action.

Paul Joffe and Geoffrey Henderson
July 02, 2015

As China unveiled its contribution (“INDC”) to the international climate negotiations, affirming the pledges it made in its joint announcement with the U.S. in November, a spokesman for Christian Aid, Mohamed Adow, said, “The pledge marks a significant shift away from a fossil fuel-intensive development path to one focused on renewables on a scale the world has never yet seen.” Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute called it “a serious and credible” effort, and said “China’s commitment was made possible by its ambitious clean energy policies and investments enacted over the past decade.”

Geoffrey Henderson
June 26, 2015

For the full briefing notice including speakers, topics, and the video recording, click here

At this week’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C., the two countries built on their robust cooperation on climate change and clean energy. The U.S. and China pledged to work together to address obstacles to an “ambitious global climate agreement” at this December’s Conference of the Parties in Paris. They also agreed to continue to discuss each country’s post-2020 plans, and announced a new dialogue on domestic policy. The countries highlighted their progress on the initiatives they jointly announced in November, such as phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and expanding the Clean Energy Research Center (CERC).

Angel Hsu and Andrew Moffat
May 07, 2015

Given last November’s historic joint climate announcement, much anticipation has been focused on the contributions of the United States and China towards December’s Paris climate deal. At the end of March, the United States announced its intended nationally-determined contribution (INDC), and China is expected to release the details of its pledge in the next few months. Already, there is concern that the country submissions are behind and that they will not be sufficient to narrow the emissions gap sufficiently after 2020 to contain global temperature rise. That countries might submit less ambitious commitments is a serious concern, as the Climate Action Tracker has said about Japan’s prospective commitments, for example. Either way, the reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change are so substantial that additional “cycles of action” are needed both at the upcoming Paris Summit and beyond.

Sarah Forbes and Joanna Lewis
April 13, 2015

This op-ed originally appeared on The Hill’s Congress Blog:

When U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly announced major targets to combat climate change last November, they did more than chart an ambitious course for their two countries. The leaders of the world’s two biggest economies – which are also the planet’s two biggest energy consumers and greenhouse gas emitters – showed a way forward for U.S. bilateral cooperation with other countries on energy and climate.

Paul Joffe and Geoffrey Henderson
March 31, 2015

With the U.S. release of its proposal for the international climate negotiations and proposals expected soon from other countries, the negotiations are intensifying. A key factor in this dynamic is China’s November commitment to peak its emissions and scale up non-fossil energy, which has shifted the global debate on climate action. China is already taking action on multiple fronts to meet its new goals.

Jane Nakano
March 18, 2015

For many years, Chinese regulators have learned about nuclear safety from working with the United States, but nuclear safety cooperation is becoming increasingly a two-way street. Nuclear energy could play a significant role in meeting China’s new climate goals stated in its November 11th, 2014 joint announcement with the U.S. This includes targets to peak its carbon dioxide emissions around 2030—with the intention to do so sooner—and to raise the non-fossil fuel share of energy use to around 20 percent by that date. The U.S. and China are working together to ensure attention to safety considerations in China’s projected expansion of nuclear power.

Geoffrey Henderson
March 13, 2015

Drawing on preliminary energy demand data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has estimated that China’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by 2 percent last year, the first reduction in over a decade. Other reports indicate China’s coal consumption also declined, by 2.9 percent, in 2014; and the share of non-fossil energy in China’s energy consumption rose last year, while coal fell as a percentage of the country’s energy mix. According to the International Energy Agency, even as the global economy grew by 3%, global energy-related carbon emissions did not rise in 2014, due to shifts in energy use in China and OECD countries.

Bloomberg article

International Energy Agency press release

Geoffrey Henderson
March 04, 2015

Professor Qi Ye, director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy, commented at London-based think tank IPPR on his expectations for China’s upcoming 13th Five Year Plan, which will go into effect early next year. Profesor Qi expects the Chinese government to place a cap on CO2 emissions—consistent with the planned carbon market starting next year—and assign “absolute coal consumption caps” to more than the 30% of provinces presently covered. He also emphasized that China is making efforts to reach a peak in CO2 emissions earlier than its 2030 target. These comments come in the wake of reports that China’s coal consumption fell in 2014.

Read more…