China's climate change plan

22 September 2014

The Chinese government has approved a national climate change plan that sets out emission and clean energy targetsĀ for 2020. Nuclear energy will have an important role in meeting these targets.

The plan - proposed by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) - was approved by the State Council on 19 September.

China has pledged to reduce its carbon emission intensity, namely emissions per unit of GDP, by 40-45% by 2020 compared with the 2005 level. It also aims to raise the proportion of non-fossil fuels to about 15% of its total primary energy consumption.

NDRC deputy chief Xie Zhenhua was reported by the Xinhua news agency to have said that by the end of 2013 China had cut its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by almost 29% from 2005. This, he said, has avoided emissions equivalent to some 2.5 billion tonnes of CO2. Meanwhile, the proportion of China's total primary energy consumption met by non-fossil fuels stood at 9.8% at the end of 2013, Xie said. The plan also sets the target for China to increase forest coverage by 40 million hectares within the next five years.

Under the plan, the Chinese government will speed up efforts to establish a carbon emission permit market, as well as deepening international cooperation under the principles of "common but differentiated responsibilities," equity and respective capability.

Xie said China has been playing an active and constructive role in tackling climate change by taking measures primarily in three areas: energy conservation and improving efficiency of energy use; developing renewable energy; and increasing forest carbon sinks.

The NDRC said, "While achieving the goal of addressing climate change, [the plan will also] promote the formation of an efficient, coordinated and sustainable national spatial development pattern, enhancing the relevance and effectiveness of climate change policy."

The State Council said local governments and departments at all levels should recognize the significance and urgency in dealing with climate change and give higher priority to action on this issue. It called for the NDRC to work with other relevant departments to strengthen organizational leadership and ensure that the new plan is implemented effectively.

Cleaner energy

Some 80% of mainland China's electricity is produced from fossil fuels, with most of the remainder coming from hydropower.

Nuclear power will feature in China's efforts to ensure energy security for the country's continued economic growth, premier Li Keqiang said at the first meeting in April of the newly-established National Energy Administration (NEA).

Mainland China currently has 21 nuclear power reactors in operation with a combined generating capacity of just over 18 GWe. A further 27 reactors are under construction, and more about to start construction. The target adopted by the State Council in October 2012 is to have 60 GWe of nuclear generating capacity installed by 2020.

Headed by Li, the NEA was set up to coordinate China's overall energy policies. It includes representatives from other agencies, including the environment and finance ministries, the central bank and the National Development and Reform Commission. The NEA will draft a new energy development strategy, evaluate energy security and coordinate international cooperation on climate change, carbon emissions reduction and energy efficiency.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News