by P. Homewood, March 6, 2021 in NotaLotofPeopleKnowThat
China has set out an economic blueprint for the next five years that could lead to a strong rise in greenhouse gas emissions if further action is not taken to meet the country’s long-term goals.
The 14th five-year plan, published in Beijing on Friday, gave few details on how the world’s biggest emitter would meet its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2060, set out by President Xi Jinping last year, and of ensuring that carbon dioxide output peaks before 2030.
China will reduce its “emissions intensity” – the amount of CO2 produced per unit of GDP – by 18% over the period 2021 to 2025, but this target is in line with previous trends, and could lead to emissions continuing to increase by 1% a year or more. Non-fossil fuel energy is targeted to make up 20% of China’s energy mix, leaving plenty of room for further expansion of the country’s coal industry.
Swithin Lui, of the Climate Action Tracker and NewClimate Institute, said: “[This is] underwhelming and shows little sign of a concerted switch away from a future coal lock-in. There is little sign of the change needed [to meet net zero].”
Zhang Shuwei, chief economist at Draworld Environment Research Centre, said: “As the first five-year plan after China committed to reach carbon neutrality by 2060, the 14th five-year plan was expected to demonstrate strong climate ambition. However, the draft plan presented does not seem to meet the expectations. The international community expected China’s climate policy to ‘jump’, but in reality it is still crawling.”
Unusually, this five-year plan did not set out GDP targets for the whole five-year period, but allowed for annual targets, with the first for this year a target of 6% growth. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air said that coupled with the emissions intensity target, this could allow the growth rate of China’s emissions to speed up even further, rather than slow down, as is needed.