China’s climate and energy policies

Date: 29 January 2015

In order to keep track with high economic growth rates, China’s energy sector has grown at a rapid pace and the energy consumption has increased fivefold in the last 30 years. But China has set ambitious and progressive energy goals to meet the challenges.

China is the world’s largest energy consumer and 2/3 of this energy consumption is based on coal. China’s rapidly expanding energy sector is the main single factor behind the future global increase in coal. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects that China will account for 44 per cent of the net global increase in coal consumption from 2011 till 2035.

China became a net importer of oil in 1993, of natural gas in 2007 and of coal in 2009. The increased consumption of oil for transportation will be the main driver for the increased global oil consumption. According to IEA China will contribute with 57 per cent of the net global increase in oil. The fast industrialization, urbanization and merging middle class are the main drivers behind this boom in fossil fuel consumption.

In 2007 China became the world’s largest emitter of CO2. The per capita emission of CO2 now exceeds the EU average and IEA expects that China by 2035 will emit as much energy related CO2 as the USA, the EU, Japan and the Middle East collectively.

China as key player
China is the ultimate key player for the global efforts to fight climate change and to the global path towards a more sustainable energy sector. It is therefore highly positive that China’s government has begun an ambitious and progressive green development in its climate and energy policies.

The previous 5-Year Plan introduced binding targets for the share of non-fossil energy and the energy intensity. However, the target for non-fossil energy was not attained. Despite the obvious challenge, China added more targets in the present 5-Year Plan, i.e. a binding target to improve the carbon intensity.

The challenges for China and the global community are both sizeable and tangible.
The international community can benefit greatly on a co-operation with China on technology transfer and other means to enhance a sustainable development and lower the GHG emissions. Denmark has taken up the challenge and the Danish Energy Agency has established a thorough cooperation with China in a number of important areas, i.e. scenarios for more renewable energy, integration of fluctuating wind power in the grid system, and replacement of coal with biomass in local district heating to name a few.

For further information please contact sernior advisor, Mr. Ole Odgaard,oo@ens.dk