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In What Format and under What Timeframe Would China Take on Climate Commitments? A Roadmap to 2050

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  • ZhongXiang Zhang

    (Senior Fellow Research Program East-West Center)

Abstract

In what format and under what timeframe China would take on climate commitments is of significant relevance to China because it is facing great pressure both inside and outside international climate negotiations to exhibit greater ambition and is being confronted with the threats of trade measures. It is of significant global relevance as well because when China’s emissions peak is crucial to determine when global emissions would peak and because what China is going to do in what format has significant implications for the level and ambition of commitments from other countries. In response to these concerns and to put China in a positive position, this paper maps out the roadmap for China’s specific climate commitments towards 2050. Taking many factors into consideration, the paper argues that China needs to take on absolute emissions caps around 2030. While this date is later than the time frame that the U.S. and other industrialized countries would like to see, it would probably still be too soon from China’s perspective. However, it is hard to imagine how China could apply the brakes so sharply as to switch from rapid emissions growth to immediate emissions cuts, without passing through several intermediate phases. To that end, the paper envisions that China needs the following three transitional periods of increasing climate obligations before taking on absolute emissions caps that will lead to the global convergence of per capita emissions by 2050: First, further credible energy-conservation commitments starting 2013 and aimed at cutting China’s carbon intensity by 45-50% by 2020; second, voluntary “no lose” emission targets starting 2018; and third, binding carbon intensity targets as its international commitment starting 2023. Overall, this proposal is a balanced reflection of respecting China’s rights to grow and recognizing China’s growing responsibility for increasing greenhouse gas emissions as China is approaching the world’s largest economy.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei in its series Working Papers with number 2010.112.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2010.112

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Keywords: Carbon Intensity Target; Binding Emissions Caps; Post-Copenhagen Climate Negotiations; Energy Saving; Renewable Energy; Clean Development Mechanism; China; USA; India;

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References

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  1. De Perthuis, Christian & Convery, Frank J. & Ellerman, Denny, 2010. "Pricing carbon : the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/10174, Paris Dauphine University.
  2. ZhongXiang Zhang, 2009. "Multilateral Trade Measures in a Post-2012 Climate Change Regime?: What Can Be Taken from the Montreal Protocol and the WTO?," Working Papers 2009.81, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  3. Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2006. "China, the United States and technology cooperation on climate control," MPRA Paper 12801, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Tora Skodvin & Steinar Andresen, 2009. "An agenda for change in U.S. climate policies? Presidential ambitions and congressional powers," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 263-280, August.
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  7. ZhongXiang Zhang, 2003. "Open Trade with the U.S. without Compromising Canada’s Ability to Comply with its Kyoto Target," Working Papers 2003.68, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  8. ZhongXiang Zhang, 2009. "The US Proposed Carbon Tariffs, WTO Scrutiny and China's Responses," Economics Study Area Working Papers 106, East-West Center, Economics Study Area.
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  13. Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2010. "China in the transition to a low-carbon economy," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(11), pages 6638-6653, November.
  14. Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2010. "Is it fair to treat China as a Christmas tree to hang everybody's complaints? Putting its own energy saving into perspective," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 32(Supplemen), pages S47-S56, September.
  15. Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2003. "Why did the energy intensity fall in China's industrial sector in the 1990s? The relative importance of structural change and intensity change," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 625-638, November.
  16. Emma Paulsson, 2009. "A review of the CDM literature: from fine-tuning to critical scrutiny?," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 63-80, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Sean Walsh & Huifang Tian & John Whalley & Manmohan Agarwal, 2011. "China and India’s participation in global climate negotiations," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 261-273, September.
  2. Lu, Yingying & Stegman, Alison & Cai, Yiyong, 2013. "Emissions intensity targeting: From China's 12th Five Year Plan to its Copenhagen commitment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 1164-1177.
  3. Robert Shum, 2014. "China, the United States, bargaining, and climate change," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 83-100, March.
  4. ZhongXiang Zhang, 2013. "Energy and Environmental Issues and Policy in China," Working Papers 2013.92, 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. Emanuele Massetti, 2011. "Carbon tax scenarios for China and India: exploring politically feasible mitigation goals," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 11(3), pages 209-227, September.
  7. Libo Wu & Jing Li & ZhongXiang Zhang, 2011. "Inflationary effect of oil-price shocks in an imperfect market: a partial transmission input-output analysis," Economics Study Area Working Papers 115, East-West Center, Economics Study Area.

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