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MEE: China to evolve towards low-carbon economy

In the next five years, China will chase high-quality national development by further upgrading its systems for environment protection to realize a fundamental transformation in its economic, industrial and energy structures, Li Gao, head of Climate Change Dept. of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), shared at the ministry’s press conference on October 28, touching upon some key components in the drive towards an eco-friendly economy in the long run.

In the next five years, MEE will need to push the transformation of the country’s industrial, transportation and construction sectors toward low-carbon development models, efficiently controlling fossil fuel energy consumption, promoting renewable energy, and proceeding with the replacement of coal and gas for electricity in daily life, he elaborated. The regulation of the scattered and small-sized coal mining operations will also be intensified.

Low-carbon lifestyle should be publicized too across China, Li stressed. Among the efforts citizens will be strongly proposed to make in their daily lives, they will be encouraged to use public transportation, reduce food waste, and to drive new energy vehicles.

To reduce carbon emissions to zero from their climax in 30 years will be a large challenge for China, and the pledge is a clear illustration of China’s resolution and commitment to a low-carbon future, Li said.

Consequently, in the next decade, the related local authorities and key industrial sectors will need to be clear about the significance of making sure that carbon emissions will peak by 2030. MEE will aid this via communication and administrative guidelines as well as drafting detailed execution plans, according to him.

In the coming years, “we will need to strictly control coal consumption including limiting the coal power generation capacity within the reasonable range, and to accelerate the construction of non-coal energy generation facilities,” he said.

Since 2011, China has been trialling the trading of carbon emission quotas in seven pioneer provinces and municipalities, and by August this year, the trading had spread to nearly 3,000 enterprises in over 20 industries including power generation and steel and cement manufacturing, with the trading volume exceeding 400 million tonnes.

All the experience will be valuable for China to solidify the foundation by 2025 for the build-up of a national carbon trading market with its own characteristics, and then by 2030 to run the trading system to effectively help limit the impact of carbon emissions on climate change, Li remarked.

For the immediate term over the 2020-2021 winter, China will continue to impose tough restrictions on the operations of those industries generating greenhouse gases to reduce their impact on climate change.

By the end of 2019, non-fossil energy contributed 15.3% of the country’s total energy consumption, having hit Beijing’s target set for 2020 one year in advance, MEE said, adding that over 2016-2019, the efficiency enhancement in power consumption was equivalent to a reduction in carbon emissions by 1.4 billion tonnes.

Written by Hongmei Li, li.hongmei@mysteel.com

Edited by Russ McCulloch, russ.mcculloch@mysteel.com