Targets for emissions cuts released by Chinese government this week

China will use energy more efficiently over the next five years and expects its carbon emissions to be on a steady decline by 2035 at the latest, according to a roadmap for the country’s development released after top-level political meetings this week. Kevin Foster explains latest developments on the Argus website.


China lays out emissions cuts, energy efficiency goals

The targets were published following the conclusion of the communist party’s (CPC) fifth plenum session yesterday. The meetings, chaired by president Xi Jinping, focused on two key documents: the 14th five-year plan, which covers 2021-25, and a mid-term economic strategy called Vision 2035.

There are few details of the discussions and a clearer picture is only likely to emerge next year. But a communique released after the meeting gives an indication of the government’s priorities, as it seeks to set economic direction amid the Covid-19 pandemic and develop a “modernised economy”.

China will provide a “more solid foundation” for agriculture, work towards a “green transformation of production and lifestyle” and allocate energy and resources more appropriately in 2021-25, according to the summary of the five-year plan discussions. It will improve “socialist democracy and the rule of law”, respond better to emergencies and natural disasters, and modernise its armed forces.

The targets for 2035, while equally vague, are more ambitious. China’s economic and technological strength will increase “significantly” by then and the country will become a global leader in innovation. China aims to finish building a modernised economy by 2035, which is roughly halfway between now and 2049, the 100th anniversary of communist party rule and the date at which China aims to become a fully developed, high-income, socialist power.

Carbon emissions will steadily decline after reaching a peak and there will be fundamental improvements in the environment, the communique said. Xi has committed to China peaking its emissions before 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2060.

China will strengthen its ability to co-operate and compete in the international economy, according to the 2035 goals. Beijing’s focus on developing its home-grown technology sector — together with its military expansion — are among likely sources of conflict with the US, no matter who wins next week’s presidential election.

China will establish a global fund for scientific research on issues such as climate change, energy resources and public health, the CPC’s central committee said today. But the focus of the development plans is clearly on the domestic market. By 2035, equitable access to basic public services will be ensured, inequality will fall and “people will lead a better life”, the communique said.

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