On 30 June 2015, in advance of COP21, China submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). The submission specified a target to peak CO2 emissions by 2030 at the latest, lower the carbon intensity of GDP1 by 60% to 65% below 2005 levels by 2030, increase the share of non-fossil energy carriers of the total primary energy supply to around 20% by that time, and increase its forest stock volume to a total of around 4.5 billion cubic metres, compared to 2005 levels.
Environmental commentators have rated, based on scientific analysis, the targets set in China’s INDC submission as medium. China’s commitment to peak CO2 emissions by 2030 and to increase its renewable energy capability to 20% of total primary energy supply demonstrates China’s commitment to addressing climate change.
‘Based on its national circumstances, development stage, sustainable development strategy and international responsibility, China has nationally determined its actions by 2030.’
The Chinese government stated in its INDC that it is accelerating the implementation of the National Strategy for Climate Adaptation (2014 – 2020)2. The strategy outlines a wide range of measures to be implemented by 2020 in order to protect water resources, minimise soil erosion and strengthen disaster prevention.
‘China will accelerate the transformation of energy production and consumption and continue to restructure its economy, optimize the energy mix, improve energy efficiency and increase its forest carbon sinks, with a view to efficiently mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.’
China has made a commitment to strengthen laws and regulations on climate change and to integrate climate change related objectives into the national economic and social development plans.
Notwithstanding the above, there are some signs that China is preparing to accept an absolute cap on emissions. The US Sino treaty move to agree to no further increase beyond 2030, the fact that its calculation of emissions has moved from energy intensity to an absolute cap on emissions (and this is reflected in the schemes), the moves to develop and then unify the emission trading schemes into one scheme and certain statements by some officials point in this direction. Accordingly, China will be one to watch at Paris to see where it moves from its INDC submission.
The full text of China’s INDC submission can be accessed here.