China issues plan to hit carbon emission peak before 2030

By Reuters   October 26, 2021 | 06:49 pm PT
China will take action to reduce waste, promote renewables and unconventional fuel, and reform its electricity network as part of its plan to bring carbon emissions to a peak before 2030, China's cabinet said on Tuesday.

The new action plan repeats China's targets to bring wind and solar capacity to 1,200 gigawatts by the end of the decade, to build more hydropower and nuclear plants and further develop natural gas resources.

The document was published just five days before talks get under way in Glasgow to strengthen the global fight against climate change. China is set to announce its updated "nationally determined contributions" before the meeting begins.

A worker at a coal mine in China. Photo by AF

A worker at a coal mine in China. Photo by AF

Climate watchers have been looking closely for signs that China, the world's biggest source of climate-warming greenhouse gases, might make more ambitious pledges ahead of the Glasgow talks. Tuesday's document offered few advances.

As the country grapples with power shortages and ramps up coal production in order to guarantee winter supplies, the State Council said China would accelerate efforts to build a new and more flexible power system that allows new energy sources to be steadily increased.

As well as new solar and wind farms, new hydroelectric dams would also be built on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, Mekong and Yellow rivers, and China will also make more use of new-generation nuclear technology, including small-scale offshore reactors, it said.

China will also take action to ensure that energy-intensive industrial sectors such as steel, non-ferrous metals and building materials improve energy efficiency and recycling rates, and make full use of new technologies to bring their own emissions to a peak.

Last week, China's state planner said at least 30 percent of production capacity in those energy-intensive sectors would meet tighter energy efficiency standards by 2025.

Unconventional fuel

Additionally, primary oil refining capacity in China will be capped at 1 billion tonnes per annum by 2025, the document outlined, while petroleum and chemical companies will be encouraged to adjust their feedstock structure by replacing coal with electricity and natural gas.

Meanwhile, China plans to "reasonably" manage oil and gas consumption by "gradually adjusting gasoline use" and advocate biofuel and sustainable jet fuel to replace conventional fuel products.

Some Chinese oil refiners and analysts reckon that diesel consumption in the country has already peaked, and expect gasoline demand to peak in 2025-28.

China's plan promotes natural gas as well as non-conventional oil and gas, including coalbed methane, even though they are fossil fuels and sources of carbon dioxide.

China is currently investing $131 billion in new gas infrastructure, think tank Global Energy Monitor said on Tuesday, adding that its reliance on gas would do little to reduce temperature rises.

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