Economic circumstances in China following the pandemic have accelerated the country’s energy transition and the process to peak carbon dioxide emissions, a survey of climate and energy experts has found. It is the second year the survey has been carried out as part of the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air’s annual China Climate Transition Outlook report, which aims to measure experts’ views on whether China is on track with its climate commitments. The survey, jointly conducted by the centre in Helsinki and the International Society for Energy Transition Studies of Australia, included 89 experts representing diverse specialisations in the fields of climate and energy this year, roughly tripling the number in the last survey. Identical questions were used in the two surveys.
Experts are more optimistic about China’s potential in reducing carbon emissions as the country works to improve an economy that was hampered by the pandemic, the report says. About 21 per cent of the experts surveyed this year said they believe China’s carbon dioxide emissions will peak before 2025, compared with 15 per cent in the survey last year. China aims to reach peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and realise carbon neutrality before 2060. Most of the experts surveyed this year said they believe China is on track to reach peak emissions on time, but limiting emissions increases before the peak remains a significant challenge, the report says. More than half of the experts were confident that China would reach its consumption peak in primary energy — natural, unconverted energy forms such as coal, natural gas and hydropower — before 2030. “Achieving carbon neutrality in a fast-growing economy like that of China is not an easy task,” said Yang Muyi of the International Society for Energy Transition Studies. To realise carbon neutrality China needs not only to rebuild its national economy and focus on boosting technologies for developing clean energy and enhancing energy efficiency, but also forge ahead with the transition in the fossil fuel sector in a cautious way, he said. He stressed that China has to strike a balance between promoting rapid decarbonisation and dealing with a host of issues of public concern, including energy access and reliable supply.
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