Renewables and Alternative Energy

Stronger Commitments from China and US Are Breakthrough for International Climate Action

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.

Renewable Energy In China: A Graphical Overview of 2014

Key Points:

  • As of 2014, China got 11.2% 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% by the end of 2015 and 15% in 2020. China’s contribution to the anticipated international climate agreement includes a target to increase the non-fossil share to around 20% by 2030.
  • Wind Power: China ranks first in the world in installed wind power capacity, with about 110 GW by the end of 2014. China is also the world’s fastest growing installer of wind power, and it aims to have 200 GW installed by 2020.
  • Solar Power: China had nearly 33 GW of solar power capacity installed by the end of 2014, and is attempting to dramatically scale up, planning to install an additional 17.8 GW of solar projects in 2015 and a total of 100 GW by 2020.
  • Investment: China was the number one investor in renewable energy in 2014, accounting for nearly a third of global investment.

China Announces Next Steps in Shift to Low-Carbon Path

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.”

Strategic and Economic Dialogue announces climate progress, ChinaFAQs and EESI hold briefing

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).

U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership (USCREP)

Key Points:

  • The U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership (USCREP) aims to advance the viability of renewable energy by addressing barriers to deployment and grid integration.
  • The USCREP promotes policy, planning, and coordination for renewable energy; supports efficient grid integration for renewable generation; participates in efforts to develop international standards for the quality of wind and solar technology; and promotes the deployment of distributed solar generation and concentrated solar power.
  • Opportunities for U.S. clean technologies through USCREP-fostered cooperation lead to potential job creation and expanding exports.

Momentum For Paris Agreement Builds from U.S.-China Climate Change Pledges

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.

Looking Toward Nuclear Expansion, China Works with U.S. on Safety*

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.

Reports from China Suggest Low-Carbon Shift in 2014

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

U.S.-China Accord Includes Important Steps on Non-Fossil Energy

The U.S.-China joint announcement on climate change is an historic milestone to limit carbon pollution. This agreement between the world’s two top economies, which together emit nearly 45 percent of the planet’s carbon pollution1, is a big deal.

Making Plans: Steps in Development of China's Crucial 13th Five Year Plan

ChinaFAQs expert Angel Hsu and her team at Yale’s Environmental Performance Measurement program have developed an interactive timeline that lays out the steps China is expected to take in developing, enacting and implementing its next Five Year Plan, which will orient the country’s economic and social policy. The 13th Five Year Plan will be announced in early 2016 and will be in place until the 14th Five Year Plan in 2021. The timeline provides details on dates, procedure, and stakeholder involvement for each stage of the process. Past plans have set targets relating to energy and carbon intensity, coal and energy consumption, energy efficiency, and clean energy development. The upcoming 13th Five Year Plan is likely to include additional measures to bend the curve of China’s greenhouse gas emissions downward, and will provide insight into how China will strive to meet its new climate targets for 2030.

To access the timeline, click here