China plans CO2 emission cuts in key sectors by 1% of 2023 level


BEIJING: China aims to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of key industries by an amount equivalent to about 1% of the 2023 national total through efficiency gains in everything from steel production to transportation, according to a government plan released on Wednesday.

China, the world's top energy consumer and largest greenhouse gas emitter, also set a target for making economic growth more energy efficient, a step in line with President Xi Jinping's push for "new productive forces."

The government action plan said China's economy would require 2.5% less energy for every unit of GDP growth in 2024. It proposed to hit that goal by pushing for specific changes in industries, including building materials and petrochemicals.

China missed its energy intensity goal last year, and its desire to cut emissions and energy consumption is often at odds with the need to boost economic growth and living standards.

Lauri Myllyvirta, senior fellow at Asia Society Policy Institute, said it was possible China's CO2 emissions could have peaked in 2023, reflecting stalled growth in oil demand and expanding wind and solar and wind generation. China's official target remains for CO2 emissions to peak before 2030.

The plan repeated a target for non-fossil energy sources to make up about 20% of China's total energy use in 2025, up from this year's target of around 18.9%.

The plan said China would "strictly" control coal consumption, "reasonably" control petroleum consumption and promote use of biofuel and sustainable aviation fuel.

For natural gas - which Beijing sees as a bridge to reach its carbon-neutral goal by 2060 - the plan calls for the expedited development of resources such as shale gas and coal bed methane to boost domestic supply. It said the government would also prioritise gas use for winter heating of households.

The plan calls for building large-scale renewable power complexes and the development of offshore wind power so that non-fossil energy sources would account for some 39% of total power generation by 2025, up from 33.9% in 2020.

It also said China would increase a limit on the curtailment of renewable energy from 5% to 10%, and envisages the accelerated construction of ultra-high voltage transmission lines and grid system upgrades to address curtailment.

Curtailment refers to curbing excess renewable electricity to maintain a balance between supply and demand.

Some areas have faced rising curtailment rates as increases in renewable power capacity have exceeded the capacity of the distribution system and batteries to either use or store that power.

Albert Miao, head of Asia energy transition research at Macquarie, said the relaxed curtailment rule could lead to an additional 30GW of new solar capacity.

The plan also set a target for China to have at least 40GW of new-type energy storage - which is largely made up of battery storage - by the end of 2025, up 33% from the previous goal. China had 35.3GW of installed new energy storage capacity as of the first quarter of 2024.

The plan said China would gradually abolish restrictions on purchases of new energy vehicles in all parts of the country, and would implement policies that support such vehicles.

Moreover, according to the plan, the government would control production of metals, including copper and aluminium, while allowing the development of silicon, lithium and magnesium production, elements used in semiconductors and batteries.

It said state agencies would "vigorously develop" metal recycling. - Reuters

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