Coal for Electricity

ChinaFAQs: What Are China's National Climate and Energy Targets?

Key Points:

  • 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

ChinaFAQs - Taking Stronger Action on Climate Change: China and the United States

Key Questions:

  • 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.

Panel: China’s Clean Energy Challenges

In a panel at the Brookings Institution moderated by ChinaFAQs expert Kenneth Lieberthal, ChinaFAQs experts Sarah Forbes, Kelly Sims Gallagher, and Jane Nakano discussed the challenges and prospects for China’s clean energy future. Sarah Forbes discussed China’s natural gas sector, focusing especially on shale gas. Kelly Sims Gallagher discussed China’s coal sector and the potential of carbon capture and storage technologies. Jane Nakano discussed China’s nuclear energy future.

For the full transcript and a recording of the panel see: “China’s Clean Energy Challenges

Emissions Trading in China: First Reports from the Field

When Tianjin launched its carbon emission trading scheme (ETS) on Dec 26th 2013, it became the fifth ETS operating in China, following Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong. Now that five of seven pilots have started trading and the rest are expected to start in 2014, the aggregate of all emissions regulated in China through the seven pilots will be the second largest in the world, following only the European Union.

Clearer Skies Over China – Coping with Dirty Air and Climate Change

Key Points:

  • A U.S.-Chinese team led by the Harvard China Project has developed a comprehensive framework for evaluating the economic and environmental costs and benefits of national policies to control air pollution and CO2 emissions in China.
  • Contrary to some perceptions of Chinese inaction on air pollution, China’s SO2 control policy of 2006-2010 may have been one of the most swiftly successful air pollution policies on record judged by key criteria: sulfur emissions fell sharply and prevented as many as 74,000 premature deaths from fine particle (PM2.5) air pollution in 2010 alone, all at little economic cost.
  • Looking to the future, a modest tax on carbon dioxide, starting small and rising to about $6.50 per ton in 2020 (in 2007 dollars), could lead to a 19% reduction in China’s CO2 emissions in 2020 compared to a scenario with no tax, with little effect on GDP growth and consumption over the long run.
  • Such a carbon tax would also deliver powerful ancillary benefits: reduced concentrations of an array of domestic air pollutants and prevention of as many as 89,000 premature deaths a year by 2020.

China’s New Regional Air Quality Regulations: A Win-Win for local air quality and the climate

When I went back to China this summer after my first year living outside of China in a decade I was not sure what I would find. The US press reporting on Chinese pollution had been so uniformly negative that I was not sure if somehow immediately after I left Beijing the improvements that had been taking place since the 11th Five Year Plan began in 2006 had suddenly stalled. What I found was quite to the contrary – new regulations that come into effect in 2014 are driving massive upgrades of the power sector and transforming the energy supply in central cities.

Can China’s Action Plan to combat air pollution slow down new coal power development?

Last month, China’s State Council announced a new action plan to combat air pollution, which included a prohibition of new coal-fired power plants in the three most important metropolitan areas around Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou (known as the “key-three city clusters”).1 This followed a previous announcement of a $275 billion investment by the central government in improving air quality. The action plan aims to tackle the increasingly severe air pollution problem in China, which is largely caused by its massive consumption of coal.

China's New Clean Air Action Plan

China has recently announced a plan to tackle air pollution across the country. The plan includes setting regional targets on coal use and taking high-polluting vehicles from the streets. The plan also sets target levels for regional atmospheric pollution, with particular attention paid to reducing particulate matter, which is an especially severe problem in China.

ChinaFAQs — Short Take

Library File: 

Summary of key information on China’s actions on climate and clean energy and the implications for the United States.

Majority of China’s Proposed Coal-Fired Power Plants Located in Water-Stressed Regions

ChinaFAQs experts from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have projected that China’s coal use will peak in 2020 due to increasing energy efficiency and slowing energy demand. As ChinaFAQs expert Ailun Yang discussed, the continued expansion of coal in China faces many problems, such as economic problems with the power sector, strict control of energy prices, and the rising public concern over health and environmental impacts. In addition to these already substantial challenges, rising coal use in China will also run into substantial obstacles in the form of water stress.