China Releases Emissions Reduction Proposal

UCS Comments on Proposal’s Significance for Climate Action, Energy and Land Use

Published Jun 30, 2015

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2015)—China today released its climate proposal for limiting heat-trapping emissions by 2030. The proposal, or Intended Nationally-Determined Contribution (INDC), is the latest in a series countries are publishing in preparation for December climate negotiations in Paris. With China’s submission, countries representing more than half of all global emissions have now proposed how they plan to constrain their post-2020 emissions, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).  

Specifically, China says its total emissions will peak no later than 2030 and that the country will dramatically increase its reliance on solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. China is also committing to large-scale reforestation activities to reduce emissions.  

China, already the world’s largest renewable energy producer, plans to install an amount of additional zero-emissions electricity capacity over the next 15 years that exceeds the current capacity of all the coal-fired power plants in China and is close to total current electricity generation capacity in the United States. In addition to the planned increases in renewables, China’s coal consumption has dropped in recent months. If this trend continues, China could achieve a peak in total emissions well before 2030. 

Below are statements from UCS President Ken Kimmell, UCS Director of Strategy and Policy Alden Meyer, Lead Economist and Climate Policy Manager Rachel Cleetus and UCS Director of the Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative Doug Boucher

Kimmell on global leadership: 

“With today’s announcement from China, we now have emissions reduction commitments in place from the countries that together emit a majority of heat trapping gases into the Earth’s atmosphere. The global leadership shown by China, the United States, the European Union and other nations paves the way for a successful agreement in Paris this year and bold actions thereafter.” 

Meyer on the China’s INDC: 

“By putting forward its proposed contribution, China is underscoring its commitment to reaching a comprehensive climate agreement in Paris. Coming close on the heels of last week’s G-7 summit communique, China’s announcement offers additional hope that by acting together, the world can get on the pathway towards the ultimate full decarbonization of the global economy that is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”  

Cleetus on renewable energy: 

“China is a world leader in renewable energy, and the announcement today that it will ramp up its share of non-fossil fuels to at least 20 percent of its energy mix by 2030 confirms its continued commitment to scaling up clean energy, and accelerating a transition away from coal. The public health benefits for the people of China will be significant. China’s example also underscores the huge global economic opportunity for all countries, developing and developed, in embracing a clean energy future.” 

Boucher on land use and agriculture emissions: 

“The presence of land-sector actions in China’s INDC is positive. Over past decades, China has started to reduce emissions from its land sector, mostly through reforestation efforts and has set a national goal of increasing its forests to 26 percent of its land area by 2050, compared to 18 percent in 2005. In its INDC the country has committed to increase its forest stock volume by around 4.5 billion cubic meters compared with 2005 levels. 

“Despite China’s progress with land sector emissions, its agricultural emissions are the largest in the world. There is ample scope for China to curb agricultural emissions, particularly nitrous oxide from excessive fertilizer use and methane from rice production. It’s encouraging that these potential contributions are recognized in the INDC.”