Research Press Release

Climate science: China's ability to meet Paris Agreement targets evaluated

Nature Communications

March 27, 2019

China’s carbon emissions are likely to peak before 2030, suggests an analysis of current emission-reduction policies published in Nature Communications. However, the modelling study concludes that China’s commitments, as laid out in the Paris Agreement, will only be met if there is full and effective implementation of all current policies, successful conclusion of power-sector reform, and full implementation of China's national emissions-trading system.

Under the Paris Agreement, China committed to a peak in carbon emissions around 2030 and to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 20% by 2030.

To determine if current climate policies are sufficient to enable China to meet these targets, Fang Zhang, Kelly Sims Gallagher and colleagues combined survey results from 18 experts on China’s energy and climate policies with a modelling approach to investigate their effectiveness. By analysing 14 policy interventions in their model (including power sector reform and efficiency standards and forestry policy), the authors found that an early peak in carbon emissions is likely assuming full implementation of existing and announced policies. They also suggest that power-sector reform to decarbonize the electricity sector needs to be fully implemented by 2027 in order to achieve the 20% non-fossil energy target.

The authors note that the number of policies included in the model means that there is a degree of uncertainty regarding the effects of individual policies. Although an early peak in carbon emissions seems likely, they conclude that there is little room for complacency.


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