Factors Causing Uncertainty in the Modelling Analysis
If we look at the scenarios, there are still several uncertainties in the emission path.
The biggest challenge is whether China's economic structure could be optimised and be directed away from a heavy industry-based and energy-intensive economy to a tertiary sector-based and less energy-intensive economy. By 2010, cement and steel output was 1.8 billion and 630 million tonnes, which is already higher than or close to the data in Table 2.2. Recently, the IPAC modelling team reanalysed the demand for cement and steel by using a methodology similar to energy forecasting, which reconfirmed the data in the table is the way for China to go. In recent years China has undergone a period of rapid infrastructure development, which cannot be sustained year-on-year going forwards. We have high confidence that many energyintensive products will reach a peak in the near future, before 2015.
Another big uncertainty is whether the grid could adopt a large influx of renewable energy. Based on EU's experience to date, power generation from wind and solar could rise above 15 % of total power generation, and technological progress could potentially push the share of renewable energy power generation much higher (WWF 2010). However, based on the 2-degree scenario, by 2020 power generation from wind and solar in China still only accounts for 9 %.
If the global 2-degree target is to be implemented, China's CO2 emissions have to peak before 2025.
By using a detailed analysis modelling tool, it has been found that China could peak in CO2 emissions before 2025 and start deep cuts after that to a 70 % or greater cut by 2050 compared to 2020.
Meeting the 2-degree goal within the next 40 years will be challenging enough, and a reduction of such magnitude would require the near-simultaneous and successful deployment of all available low-carbon energy technologies and a high level of international cooperation. China will need to substantially exceed the government target announced in Copenhagen, but it is feasible if sufficient domestic action is taken and international collaboration takes place, and progress is made in technology. China's low-carbon development planning and effort should be encouraged in the future; a well-designed international regime aiming at a low-carbon pathway should be designed.
The study focus on a deep-cut emission scenario by region based on efforts and technological feasibility should be presented to show a possible future for reductions towards a 2-degree global target.
Renewable energy development policies are crucial for China to reach the 2-degree target; as with technological progress, much more renewable energy could be utilised in China. Further, China's energy system has to be diverse, and nuclear energy is still an important option due to its relative safety and low environmental impact, despite the recent developmental slowdown caused by the accident in Japan.
Carbon pricing could be introduced in the near future. It is hard to reflect shorterterm change but needs more policy support to make technology development.
Setting a cap for CO2 emissions in China has been an effective way to limit CO2 emission increases over recent years. China is now implementing cap setting on energy demand in its 12th Five-Year Plan, together with a target for non-fossil fuel energy by 2020, which will represent a good practice as regards setting up caps on CO2 emissions post-2015. In the meantime, China is implementing domestic emission trading in pilot cities and provinces that will be capped for emissions in the near future.
Specific policy recommendations are as follows:
– Place a high emphasis on optimising economic development. For a long time, China has announced its desire to adjust the economic development pattern away from heavy industry-based development to a service industry-based economy. However, little effective action has been taken. The newly announced 12th FiveYear Plan sets a GDP growth target of 7 %, which implies economic optimisation will occur. Recent government action favouring a lower economic development growth rate has started to produce results, and this action should be continued in the long term.
– Put in place a clear long-term target for CO2 emissions with specific total amount control (emission caps). China is currently attempting energy total amount control, which will provide a good basis for setting a target for total CO2 emission amount control. In this regard, setting long-term targets for CO2 emissions up to 2030 and 2050 would send a clear message that future CO2 emission reductions are being targeted.
– Introduce a carbon-pricing regime, such as carbon tax or emission trading, in the near future, to send a carbon-pricing signal. This will help push economic optimisation in the direction of a low-carbon economy.
– Make energy efficiency efforts deeper and wider ranging. Despite the huge achievements in energy efficiency in the 11th Five-Year Plan, there is still much more room for further action. Policies such as energy efficiency standards could be accelerated due to rapid progress in technologies.
– Make full support on renewable development, leave market for renewable energy development with support of feed-in tariff. Recently there has been discussion on limiting wind and solar energy, and this will obviously negatively impact on renewable energy development in China. There is plenty of space on the grid to adopt renewable energy in the future.
– Continue to support nuclear energy development and raise the security level of nuclear energy to provide cleaner energy. In China, nuclear power generation is still one of the cleanest and safest forms of energy supply compared to fossil fuel energy, which will continue to dominate China's energy system for decades. The strategy should be clear, involving more efforts to improve the technology.
– Initiate a pilot phase project as soon as possible for CCS in China. A plan should be made to have 7–10 CCS projects by 2020 to test the technology and make a decision on the best type. This will be crucial for expanding the utilisation of CCS projects post-2020.
– Do more for public awareness on low-carbon development; the public needs to be much more involved in low-carbon development as this could lead to reorientation of the manufacturing industry.