Xi Jinping announces further climate commitments for 2030 . . .
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced four new climate goals for China for 2030 at the international Climate Ambition Summit on December 12: a reduction of China’s carbon dioxide emissions by more than 65 per cent from its 2005 levels, non-fossil fuels accounting for approximately 25 per cent of all energy consumption, a six-billion-cubic-metre increase in the volume of forest stock, and a capacity of over 1.2 billion kilowatts of power from wind and solar sources. The increase in wind and solar energy production would be nearly a three-fold increase over current levels. Recent developments in solar technology have made it increasingly efficient and cost-effective, such that China’s National Energy Administration has predicted that within a year, solar power will become the country’s third-largest source of electricity, after coal and hydro.
Small increase in targets, big implications . . .
Between 2015 and 2020, the share of energy produced by non-fossil fuels in China increased from 12 to 16 per cent. If it continues to increase at these rates, China could expect to reach a capacity of 1.1 billion kilowatts produced by solar and wind energy by 2030. The new target of 1.2 billion, therefore, seems relatively modest. However, for non-fossil fuels to provide 25 per cent of all energy use, significant increases in the capacity of wind and solar power are required. The expansion of both hydro and nuclear power capacity is expected to slow in China in the coming years, leaving room for wind and solar to fill the gap.
China’s expanding international role through climate initiatives . . .
Over the past decade, China’s rhetoric on climate change and its role in fostering solutions to the climate crisis has shifted significantly. While in past years it used its relatively low ‘emissions intensity’ as a justification for continuing its high levels of fossil fuel consumption, it has in recent years increasingly focused its narrative on the uptake of cleaner and greener energy sources. China has also increased its advocacy for and commitments to international climate goals. Some observers interpret Xi’s recent announcements as an indication of China’s willingness to take action regardless of whether other countries do the same. However, China still faces many challenges if it is to meet its new 2030 goals, especially with an economy that remains heavily reliant on the coal industry.