SINGAPORE – China is on track to meet a goal to bring its climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions to a peak before 2030, according to a poll of 89 experts from industry and academia published on Tuesday, though questions remain over how high the top will be.
More than 70% of respondents said China, the world’s biggest carbon dioxide emitter, will be able to meet the target, with two saying its emissions had already peaked, in a poll compiled by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), a Helsinki-based think tank.
Still, “experts remain concerned about how high the peak emissions would reach compared to previous levels,” CREA said, with a majority of respondents expecting the total to be at least 15% higher than the 2020 level.
Doubts have been cast on China’s ability to meet its 2030 pledge, as authorities continue to approve dozens of new coal-fired power stations to meet rising energy demand and avoid a repeat of the disruptive power outages that hit the country in 2021.
But CREA said respondents, including 64 based in China, were more optimistic about the country’s ability to meet its goal compared to last year, with the majority believing post-pandemic economic conditions were accelerating the energy transition.
Half of the experts surveyed by CREA said they believed China would reach peak primary energy consumption before the end of this decade, though nearly a quarter still forecast it would continue to rise even after 2035.
China’s reluctance to agree to a phasing-out of fossil fuels is expected to be a major sticking point at COP28 climate talks in Dubai starting next week, though Beijing is willing to agree to a new global plan to triple renewable energy capacity.
China also said in an agreement with the U.S. that it would “accelerate the substitution for coal, oil and gas generation” in order to secure “meaningful absolute power sector emission reductions” this decade.
CREA’s lead analyst Lauri Myllyvirta said last week it was likely China’s emissions had already gone into a “structural decline”, with renewable sources capable of meeting new energy demand. — Reuters