While experts express concerns about the peak’s height, they are more optimistic about China’s ability to meet its goal compared to last year, citing post-pandemic economic conditions that are accelerating the energy transition. China’s commitment to phasing out fossil fuels is expected to be a major point of discussion at the upcoming COP28 climate talks in Dubai.
China is making progress toward achieving its goal of peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030, according to a poll of 89 experts from industry and academia. The poll, conducted by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), a Helsinki-based think tank, indicates that more than 70% of respondents believe China, the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter, will be able to meet this target. Two respondents even suggested that China’s emissions had already peaked.
However, there are lingering questions about the height of China’s emissions peak compared to previous levels. CREA noted that “experts remain concerned about how high the peak emissions would reach compared to previous levels.” A majority of respondents expect the emissions peak to be at least 15% higher than the 2020 level.
China’s ability to achieve its 2030 pledge has been met with skepticism, particularly as authorities approve new coal-fired power stations to meet rising energy demand and avoid power outages. Despite these concerns, respondents, including 64 based in China, are more optimistic about China’s ability to meet its goal compared to last year. Many experts believe that post-pandemic economic conditions are accelerating the energy transition.
In addition to emissions peaking, experts also discussed China’s primary energy consumption. Half of the surveyed experts believe that China will reach peak primary energy consumption before the end of this decade. However, nearly a quarter forecast that energy consumption will continue to rise even after 2035.
China’s stance on phasing out fossil fuels is expected to be a contentious issue at the upcoming COP28 climate talks in Dubai. While Beijing is willing to agree to a new global plan to triple renewable energy capacity, its reluctance to commit to a fossil fuel phase-out remains a significant challenge.
CREA’s lead analyst, Lauri Myllyvirta, suggested that China’s emissions are likely to enter a “structural decline” from next year, with renewable sources capable of meeting new energy demand. This indicates a positive trajectory in China’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.