Targets exceeded . . .
China’s carbon emissions are expected to peak years earlier than the 2030 pledge it made under the Paris Agreement, according to a new international study published in Nature Sustainability. China committed in the 2015 Paris Agreement to peak carbon emissions around 2030 and to increase the non-fossil fuel share of its primary energy to 20 per cent. With many climate-friendly policies in implementation, the country has already reached its 2020 carbon emission target three years ahead of schedule. It peaked its coal consumption in 2013, at least seven years earlier than expected, and the energy intensity of the economy (ratio of primary energy use to total GDP) has decreased by more than 45 per cent since 2005, meeting its Copenhagen target three years earlier than promised. It is also on track to meet its 2030 target for increasing the non-fossil fuel share of its primary energy consumption.
Cities playing a leading role . . .
One of the major contributors to this achievement is rising incomes in China’s cities. The Nature Sustainability study examined CO2 emissions from 50 Chinese cities over a 17-year period, from 2000 to 2016, and found that carbon emissions peaked for most cities at a per capita GDP threshold of US$21,000, a point at which – according to The Environmental Kuznets Curve theory – money is often invested back into the environment, and the ecosystem is restored. Based on these results, the study projected that emissions for China as a whole should peak between 2021 and 2025.
Meanwhile, across the Pacific . . .
China’s achievement in cutting carbon emissions will contribute significantly to the global effort to limit the average temperature increase to less than two degrees Celsius in this century. In contrast, six G20 members including Canada and the U.S. are either not projected to meet their pledges, or are uncertain as to when their targets will be met.
- Nature Sustainability: China’s CO2 peak before 2030 implied from characteristics and growth of cities
- Brookings Institution: China’s peaking emissions and the future of global climate policy
- United Nations Environment Program: Emissions Gap Report 2018