By Hou Liqiang
China has managed to curb the rapid growth of greenhouse gas emissions by lowering carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 4 percent in 2018, and the country will continue to make all-out efforts to honor its reduction pledge for 2030, a senior environmental official said on Wednesday.
The decrease is 0.1 percentage point greater than expected. It means that carbon intensity last year in China was 45.8 percent lower than 2005 levels, achieving its goal of decreasing carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent ahead of the 2020 deadline, according to Zhao Yingmin, vice-minister of ecology and environment. Carbon intensity is the measure of carbon produced per unit of GDP.
The decline can be translated into a total emissions reduction of 5.26 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from 2005 to 2018, he added.
"It's incredibly difficult to produce these achievements," he said. "On one hand, China, as the largest developing country in the world, has been making continuous efforts to tackle the climate change issue. On the other hand, the country faces a series of challenges in developing its economy, improving people's livelihoods, eradicating poverty and enhancing environmental governance."
Zhao made the remarks at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office as the ministry unveiled its 2019 report on China's policies and actions for addressing climate change.
The country was able to achieve the huge carbon reduction thanks to a series of efforts in transforming industrial structures, optimizing energy consumption and promoting low-carbon test programs, the report said.
In 2018, the country cut crude steel production capacity by over 35 million metric tons, increasing the accumulated capacity reduction in the sector to 150 million tons; the contribution of the services industry to the country's GDP has increased to 53.3 percent, the report shows.
By the end of May, there were 976,000 individual charging units for electric vehicles across the country, and China's 401,000 public charging units outnumber those of all other countries.
Zhao said China will have to make arduous efforts to hit its 2030 targets of decreasing carbon dioxide intensity by 60 to 65 percent from 2005 levels and further increasing the share of nonfossil fuels in the country's primary energy consumption from 14.3 percent last year to 20 percent.
"Despite the pressure and challenges, we'll do our best to seriously implement the promise" in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities inscribed in the Paris agreement on climate change, and will take a series of measures to enhance China's climate action in the upcoming 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), he said.
Zhao said the ministry will support and encourage local governments and key industrial sectors to draft targets and implement plans to peak their emissions. Efforts will also be made to promote the development of low-carbon industries and application of low-carbon technologies and improve laws and regulations on tackling climate change.
China will also accelerate the construction of a national carbon trading market. It is expected to see an open and transparent trading market with established systems and frequent transactions by 2025, he said.
Li Gao, director of climate change with the ministry, said it has drafted a provisional guideline for construction of the carbon trading market and is moving forward to hammer out rules for major emitters' greenhouse gas emission reports, emission verifications and transaction management.
He said the ministry also initiated a think tank institute on climate investment and finance in October to tap the potential of financial instruments in beefing up climate action.