Currently, China is pushing forward sustainable development, and the transformation toward low-carbon development is an important orientation. He Jiankun, a professor with Institute of Energy, Environment and Economy, Tsinghua University and concurrently vice director of National Committee of Experts on Climate Change, said in his recently-published article that, under the New Normal of China’s economy, by changing the impetus of development, transforming the development mode, readjusting the industrial structure and propelling energy production and consumption revolution, the energy consumption flexibility will drastically decrease, the energy and CO2 intensities of GDP will drop by a greater margin and the growth of energy consumption will slow down, but the CO2 emission will tend to keep stable.
According to He, in the future, with continuous and stable growth of economy, the energy consumption flexibility may rebound and there may still appear the situation where the CO2 emission slowly increase, but the tendency of their rapid growth is unlikely to reappear. Under the “new normal” state, in light of the haze governance and environmental quality improvement, China should further enhance the momentum of saving energy and dropping carbon and strive to reach the carbon discharges peak value by 2025 and then change to keep a continuous and stable downtrend. Internationally, China should get deeply involved in and actively lead the process of cooperation in the global response to climate change, expand its influence and right of speech and demonstrate its responsibility and undertaking for protecting the earth’s ecology and all human beings’ common interests.
He said that, to accelerate the green and low-carbon transformation of economy, during the 13th Five-Year Plan period, while we support the growth of GDP at a relatively high rate of about an annual average 6.5 percent, with the economic restructuring and the industrial transformation and upgrading, the annual decrease rate of energy and CO2 intensities of GDP will still be able to maintain at a high level of that during the latter half of the 12th Five-Year Plan period. After China’s economy entered the “new normal” develop era, its GDP has stepped from the high growth rate of about and annual average 10 percent to the medium and high growth rate of about 6.5-7.0 percent. Due to the readjustment of industrial structure and the improvement of energy efficiency, the decrease of the energy consumption flexibility, the slow-down of the growth rate of energy consumption and the rapid development of new energy and renewable energy sources, the improvement of energy structure has been remarkably accelerated, thus making the CO2 emission tend to be stable and bringing about notable results in energy saving and carbon drop.
He believes that, by 2016, the proportion of non-fossil energy had risen to 13.3 percent and that of coal had dropped to 61.3 percent in China. While the total energy demand increases slowly at an annual average rate of 1.51 percent, new energy and renewable energy sources are developing rapidly at an annual average rate of 10.9 percent, thus notably accelerating the readjustment of energy structure. The CO2 intensity in energy consumption had dropped by 4.9 percent from 2013 to 2016, representing an annual average drop rate of 1.65 percent. The drop in the energy consumption flexibility and the accelerated improvement of energy structure have brought an annual average drop rate of 6.67 percent in the CO2 intensity of GDP, and the CO2 emission has basically kept even and stopped to increase.
The 13th Five-Year Plan sets the target that the energy intensity and CO2 intensity per unit of GDP should drop by 15 percent and 18 percent, representing an annual drop rate of 3.2 percent and 3.9 percent respectively. The 13th Five-Year Plan for Energy also puts forward the target that, by 2020, non-fossil energy will account for over 15 percent, coal will drop to less than 58 percent and natural gas will strive to reach 10 percent. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, in light of haze governance and the control of conventional pollutant discharge, the work of saving energy and dropping carbon still needs to be promoted. During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, the potential growth rate of GDP will drop to some extent, but the readjustment of industrial structure and energy structure will be accelerated. If the CO2 intensity of GDP continues to keep dropping at a rate of over 5 percent during the 14th Five-Year Plan period and if the potential growth rate of GDP drops to about 5 percent by the end of the 14th Five-Year Plan period, the CO2 emissions can really reach the peak value and then present a continuous and stable downtrend. Thus, we can strive to attain by 2025 the goal of nationally determined contributions as China has undertaken under the framework of Paris Agreement to make the CO2 emissions reach the peak by 2030.
China will launch the national unified carbon market in 2017, and this is an important measure for promoting low-carbon transformation by market means. Under the urgent situation of the global response to climate change, the attribute of carbon emission space as scarce resources and production factors is becoming more and more remarkable. Market mechanism is needed to clearly specify the value of carbon emission space and quota, so as to guide social investment, promote the emission reduction by enterprises and increase the economic output ratio of unit carbon emission