Top global emitter China could reach its 2060 net-zero target via a hybrid pathway, according to a recent proposal by leading Chinese climate think thanks.
The research led by the Institution of Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University, and which was carried out by 24 leading research institutions and think tanks in China, focused on the country’s long-term, low-carbon development strategy and suggested pathways to reach net-zero emissions by the mid-century.
During his speech last month at the UN General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced his country’s aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
However, the country did not reveal how it would reach this carbon-neutrality target.
The research proposed by the think tanks suggested that China could adopt a hybrid pathway, using a moderate emission reduction target before 2030 and a fast, deep-decarbonization pathway after 2030.
According to the study, China's current nationally determined contributions (NDC) are not compatible with the Paris Climate Agreement and also with its 2060 net-zero pledge.
To achieve this pledge, the country needs to meet electricity demand through renewables rather than fossil fuels, and deploy deep decarbonization plans for most of its carbon-intensive sectors.
The study, therefore, recommended that China submit a more ambitious NDC by the end of 2020 or early 2021.
The researchers also highlighted the difficulty of immediately adopting emissions reduction paths set out for the 2°C and 1.5°C scenarios due to the inertia of the energy and economic system. Therefore, they suggested a hybrid pathway with deep decarbonization after 2030 as an achievable solution.
Through this hybrid pathway, the researchers suggested that China should achieve net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and decrease all greenhouse gases by 90% compared to its 2020 level to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
They also advised that the country also lift key energy transition and emissions reduction targets in its next five-year plan, which is currently being drafted.
China is currently the leading renewable energy investor country in the world. However, coal still accounts for a large majority of its energy use with a percentage as high as around 50% recorded in 2019.
By Nuran Erkul Kaya