China has hit its 2020 carbon reduction target two years ahead of schedule, the country’s Special Representative on Climate Change Affairs, Xie Zhenhua, told the Green Carbon Summit in Shanghai last week.
“By the end of 2017, China had managed to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 46% per unit of economic growth from 2005 levels, according to reports from Xinhua, the country’s official press agency,” the UN Climate Action Programme states.
The milestone puts China on track to meet its 2030 target of reducing its carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60 to 65%.
“Government data shows that between 2005 and 2015, China’s economy grew by 1.48 times, but its carbon intensity dropped by 38.6%. This rate has continued at a high level of 6.6% for the past couple of years.
The report attributes much of China’s success to a massive carbon trading program that covers 1,700 companies, collectively responsible for about three gigatonnes (three billion tonnes) of greenhouse gas emissions per year. “By the end of 2017, the current scheme was handling 200 million tonnes of carbon emissions valued at $751 million,” and the goal is to extend it to more than 7,000 companies.
In early March, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) committed to a reduction in the country’s steel and coal production capacity this year, in a bid to reduce smog and make “skies blue again”, Reuters reported at the time. In line with Xie Zhenhua’s later statement, the move to reduce annual steel capacity by about 30 million tonnes and coal by about 150 million tonnes “would put the world’s top steelmaker and coal miner on track to meet its 2020 targets in the government’s five-year plan about two years ahead of schedule.”
“Elsewhere, the NDRC report largely reiterated existing goals, underscoring China’s years-long determination to crack down on pollution, cut back supply in bloated heavy industries, and upgrade fossil fuel energy sources by cutting coal use in favour of cleaner energy,” Reuters stated. “In both steel and coal, it has focused on shutting outdated, more polluting plants, while bringing on more efficient operations with lower emissions to ensure supply. Steel output hit a record last year, while coal production also rose.”