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

Author

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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.

Suggested Citation

  • ZhongXiang Zhang, 2010. "In What Format and under What Timeframe Would China Take on Climate Commitments? A Roadmap to 2050," Working Papers 2010.112, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2010.112
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Carraro, Carlo & Massetti, Emanuele, 2012. "Energy and climate change in China," Environment and Development Economics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(06), pages 689-713, December.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2016. "Are China’s climate commitments in a post-Paris agreement sufficiently ambitious?," Working Papers 249526, Australian National University, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy.
    5. Zhang, ZhongXiang, "undated". "Making China the transition to a low-carbon economy: Key challenges and responses," Working Papers 249516, Australian National University, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy.
    6. Junko Mochizuki & ZhongXiang Zhang, 2011. "Environmental Security and its Implications for China’s Foreign Relations," Working Papers 2011.30, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    7. 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.
    8. ZhongXiang Zhang, 2010. "Copenhagen and Beyond: Reflections on China’s Stance and," Chapters,in: Climate Change Policies, chapter 11 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    9. Wu, Libo & Li, Jing & Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2013. "Inflationary effect of oil-price shocks in an imperfect market: A partial transmission input–output analysis," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 354-369.
    10. Zhang, ZhongXiang, 2014. "Programs, Prices and Policies Towards Energy Conservation and Environmental Quality in China," Working Papers 249427, Australian National University, Centre for Climate Economics & Policy.
    11. 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.
    12. Katharina Rietig, 2014. "Reinforcement of multilevel governance dynamics: creating momentum for increasing ambitions in international climate negotiations," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 371-389, November.
    13. ZhongXiang Zhang, 2013. "Energy and Environmental Issues and Policy in China," Working Papers 2013.92, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    14. Andreas Oberheitmann & Eva Sternfeld, 2009. "Climate Change in China – The Development of China’s Climate Policy and Its Integration into a New International Post-Kyoto Climate Regime," Journal of Current Chinese Affairs - China aktuell, Institute of Asian Studies, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 38(3), pages 135-164.
    15. van Ruijven, Bas J. & Weitzel, Matthias & den Elzen, Michel G.J. & Hof, Andries F. & van Vuuren, Detlef P. & Peterson, Sonja & Narita, Daiju, 2012. "Emission allowances and mitigation costs of China and India resulting from different effort-sharing approaches," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 116-134.
    16. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources
    • Q48 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Government Policy
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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