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Exploring linkages among China's 2030 climate targets


  • Xin Wang
  • Shuwei Zhang


China published its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the UNFCCC on 30 June 2015. In this document, China promised to reach its CO2 emissions peak no later than 2030, reducing its carbon intensity by 60–65% by 2030, relative to the 2005 level, and to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 20% by 2030. Using a simple method and official data, this article aims to explore the linkages among these three targets. First, it shows that as long as China achieves its 2030 non-fossil fuel target, its carbon emissions peak can be attained prior to 2030. Second, it provides a panoramic view of the link between carbon intensity and non-fossil fuel targets with different levels of GDP growth rate and energy elasticity. This article also presents further conclusions based on this finding: first, that a GDP carbon intensity target may help to control the absolute level of the carbon emissions peak, but it could be inconsistent with the development of non-fossil fuel power; and second, that a GDP energy intensity objective, together with a non-fossil fuel target, is necessary to ensure target coherency.Policy relevanceThe carbon emissions peak and the non-fossil fuel share of the energy mix can be considered as two key pillars of China's post-2020 climate pledges under the UNFCCC negotiation framework. It is therefore important to understand the relation between the two targets. This article uses a very simple non-modelling approach to demonstrate the implications of the achievement of China's non-fossil fuels target in terms of its carbon emissions peak and the linkage between achieving carbon intensity and non-fossil fuel targets under different growth and energy elasticity assumptions. Without focusing on the relevance of peak level or time, the authors illustrate the relationship between the 2030 non-fossil fuels target and the carbon emissions peak, highlighting the potential inconsistency between GDP carbon intensity and non-fossil fuels targets. These findings should have both political and academic uses to enable further clarification and analysis of China's INDC.

Suggested Citation

  • Xin Wang & Shuwei Zhang, 2017. "Exploring linkages among China's 2030 climate targets," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(4), pages 458-469, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:tcpoxx:v:17:y:2017:i:4:p:458-469
    DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2015.1124752

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    Cited by:

    1. Liu, Junling & Wang, Ke & Zou, Ji & Kong, Ying, 2019. "The implications of coal consumption in the power sector for China’s CO2 peaking target," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 253(C), pages 1-1.
    2. Cui, Lianbiao & Li, Rongjing & Song, Malin & Zhu, Lei, 2019. "Can China achieve its 2030 energy development targets by fulfilling carbon intensity reduction commitments?," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 61-73.
    3. Xu, Guangyue & Schwarz, Peter & Yang, Hualiu, 2020. "Adjusting energy consumption structure to achieve China's CO2 emissions peak," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 122(C).

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