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China’s top climate scientists lay out map to hit 2060 goal

Bloomberg September 28 | Updated on September 28, 2020 Published on September 28, 2020

Phasing out coal power around 2050 among plans

One of China’s top climate research institutes says the country will phase out coal power around 2050 on its path toward meeting President Xi Jinping’s new climate targets.

Carbon emissions will peak sometime between 2025 and 2030, and total energy demand will start to decline around 2035, according to a new report from Tsinghua University’s Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy, which works closely with the Ministry of Ecology and Environment on projecting long term goals.

Also read: China seeks to dent coal addiction

The report, presented in a webinar on Sunday, is the first road map from a government-affiliated group showing how the country might proceed to becoming carbon neutral by 2060, a goal laid out by Xi last week in a speech to the United Nations. Xie Zhenhua, who led China’s climate policies and represented the country in international climate negotiations for more than 10 years, runs a separate climate research institute at Tsinghua which works with the Energy and Environment Economy Research Institute.

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The path, described by director Zhang Xiliang, outlines a slow transition over the next decade and a half, with a rapid acceleration after 2035. China’s energy mix would undergo a drastic transformation.

Some of the other key benchmarks Zhang laid out include:

  • China’s carbon emissions are projected to rise from about 9.6 billion tonnes a year to 10.2 billion between 2025 and 2030.
  • Emissions will fall to about 9 billion tonnes in 2035, and then will decline dramatically to 3 billion per year by 2050, 900 million by 2055 and 200 million by 2060.
  • Energy demand will peak around 2035 at somewhere between 6 billion and 6.5 billion tonnes of coal equivalent.
  • Coal-fired power will be phased out around 2050. The share of non-fossil fuels in total energy demand will grow from about 15 per cent last year to 20 per cent by 2025, 24 per cent in 2030, 62 per cent in 2050, and 84 per cent in 2060.
  • Electricity will make up 80 per cent of total energy consumption by 2060. Wind, solar and nuclear power will have be boosted to offset the decline of dirty power and hydro as total electricity demand keeps increasing.

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Published on September 28, 2020
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