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Assessing China's Carbon Intensity Pledge for 2020: Stringency and Credibility Issues and Their Implications

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  • ZhongXiang Zhang

    ()
    (East-West Center)

Abstract

Just prior to the Copenhagen climate summit, China pledged to cut its carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020 relative to its 2005 levels to help reach an international climate change agreement at Copenhagen or beyond. This raises the issue of whether such a pledge is ambitious or just represents business as usual. To put China's climate pledge into perspective, this paper examines whether this proposed carbon intensity goal for 2020 is as challenging as the energy-saving goals set in the current 11th five-year economic blueprint, to what extent it drives China's emissions below its projected baseline levels, and whether China will fulfill its part of a coordinated global commitment to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere at the desirable level. Given that China's pledge is in the form of carbon intensity, the paper shows that GDP figures are even more crucial for determining impacts on energy or carbon intensity than are energy consumption and emissions data by examining the revisions of China's GDP figures and energy consumption in recent years. Moreover, the paper emphasizes that China's proposed carbon intensity target not only needs to be seen as ambitious, but more importantly it needs to be credible. Finally, it is concluded with a suggestion that international climate change negotiations need to focus on 2030 as the targeted date to cap the greenhouse gas emissions of the world's two largest emitters in a legally binding global agreement.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by East-West Center, Economics Study Area in its series Economics Study Area Working Papers with number 113.

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Length: pages 18
Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ewc:wpaper:wp113

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  1. Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2000. "Can China afford to commit itself an emissions cap? An economic and political analysis," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(6), pages 587-614, December.
  2. ZhongXiang Zhang, 2010. "China in the Transition to a Low-Carbon Economy," Working Papers 2010.76, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
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Cited by:
  1. ZhongXiang Zhang, 2013. "Energy and Environmental Issues and Policy in China," Working Papers 2013.92, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  2. Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2011. "China's energy security, the Malacca dilemma and responses," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(12), pages 7612-7615.
  3. Yingying Lu & Alison Stegman & Yiyong Cai, 2012. "Emissions Intensity Targeting: From China's 12th Five Year Plan to its Copenhagen Commitment," CAMA Working Papers 2012-45, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  4. Can Wang & Jie Lin & Wenjia Cai & ZhongXiang Zhang, 2014. "Policies and Practices of Low Carbon City Development in China," Working Papers 2014.09, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  5. ZhongXiang Zhang, 2011. "Breaking the Impasse in International Climate Negotiations: A New Direction for Currently Flawed Negotiations and a Roadmap for China to 2050," Working Papers 2011.49, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  6. Wei Jin, 2012. "Can Technological Innovation Help China Take on Its Climate Responsibility? A Computable General Equilibrium Analysis," CAMA Working Papers 2012-51, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  7. ZhongXiang Zhang, 2012. "Why Are the Stakes So High? Misconceptions and Misunderstandings in China’s Global Quest for Energy Security," Working Papers 2012.48, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.

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