In September 2020 Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, told the UN General Assembly that his country would reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions before 2060, and emissions would begin to fall from 2030. Since then, the entire Chinese state infrastructure – from national ministries to local governments – has been working to make that vision a reality.
China is now on track to meet the target of peak emissions by 2030, analysis has found. According to the policy analyst Liu Hongqiao, who looked at provinces’ renewables targets over the course of the country’s present Five-Year Plan (2021-5), China is set to build 874GW of new solar and wind capacity – more than the world’s total 2021 capacity of either wind (825GW) or solar (843GW). China would reach 1,410GW of solar and wind capacity by 2025, more than the EU’s entire 2021 power grid (976GW).
This year the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), a Finland-based think tank, found that China would build 600GW over the Five-Year Plan. This latest rise suggests the Chinese government is increasing its renewables targets; CREA’s lead analyst Lauri Myllyvirta believes it is “highly likely” the boost will push emissions down by 2025.
China is responsible for around a third of global carbon emissions. The country’s annual emissions have grown three-fold since 2000 and its coal-fired power generation has increased five-fold. Over the last four quarters, however, national emissions have fallen as economic difficulties fuelled by the country’s real-estate slump and strict Covid measures have reduced electricity demand.
[See also: What is on the agenda at Cop27?]