China To Curb Emissions Before 2030, Says Premier

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China’s premier has announced that his country will attempt to curb its carbon emissions before a 2030 target.

During a visit to Paris this week, Premier Li Keqiang announced plans for his country to reduce carbon emissions. Specifically, “China’s carbon dioxide emissions will peak by around 2030, but China will work hard to achieve the target at an even earlier date,” Premier Li said.

Image Credit: The State Council of the People’s Republic of China

China intends to increase its share of non-fossil fuels in its primary energy generation role to approximately 20% by 2030, while simultaneously reducing carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% on its 2005 levels.

The new policies were announced in the wake of Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Paris and meeting with French President Francois Hollande, in advance of the December UN climate change talks which are set to be hosted by France.

“I am very happy that Premier Li has announced the ambitious targets in my city, which has shouldered the great task of saving this planet this year,” said Pierre Calame, president of the China-Europa Forum Foundation, which is based in Paris, adding that Li’s announcement is “good news and big news. I have seen the Chinese government’s serious commitment.”

The announcement comes following numerous rumours surrounding China’s climate targets.

Last week China’s lead negotiator for the upcoming UN climate change negotiations suggested that it could cost upwards of $6.6 trillion to meet its own greenhouse gas emission targets, which it intended to release by the end of June. These targets were submitted to the United Nations on June 30, as part of China’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), in advance of Premier Li Keqiang’s being able to announce them to the world.

“China has only ever been on defence when it comes to climate change, but today’s announcement is the first step for a more active role. For success in Paris, however, all players – including China and the EU – need to up their game,” said Li Shuo, climate analyst for Greenpeace China.

“Today’s pledge must be seen as only the starting point for much more ambitious action,” added Li Shuo. “It does not fully reflect the significant energy transition that is already taking place in China. Given the dramatic fall in coal consumption, robust renewable energy uptake, and the urgent need to address air pollution, we believe the country can go well beyond what it has proposed today.”

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Joshua S Hill

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (, and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at for more.

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16 thoughts on “China To Curb Emissions Before 2030, Says Premier

  • Good news, but the big but, is (a) can they peak even earlier (before 2020 even?) and (b) how fast will they cut once over the peak and (c) can we cut CO2 globally fast enough (i.e. EU, US etc) and help prevent India, Indonesia and others following the “China Route”

    IF we can do all these things, there’s a chance we can fall below the Blue line (which is THE only important factor in the long run):

    I admit, the pace of clean technology (as reported on here) is outstanding and hugely impressive, and that’s the only thing that’s kept the door open – the political movements have been correspondingly glacially slow (and in some places, Australia, Canada, the US republicans, (some) UK Tories, they’ve gone backwards since about 2005).

    We need to keep the pressure up – on both sides of the equation.

    • In 2011 the world got 82% of their energy (electricity, transportation and heating) from fossil fuels. Based on efficiencies created by moving from FF to renewables (away from steam boilers and ICEs) we wouldn’t need to replace about 40% of that 82%. The waste heat. (US waste heat below.)

      I’m basing the 40% on Jacobson’s US-100% renewable paper.

      So, roughly, we need to replace 50% of our current energy use with renewables. Over a 55 year period (zero by 2070). That’s 0.9% per year. That 0.9% is not evenly distributed over all countries. Some, such as Paraguay, are already 100% renewable. But the max load on any single country might be no more than 2-3% a year which should be very doable.

      Just replacing worn out fossil fuel plants and vehicles with RE and EVs should do the job.

      I think 2050 is a very attainable goal.

      • Are you sure that’s true?

        According to the REN21 2013 GSR 81% was FF and nuclear (essentially the same as you said) at year end 2011, but that’s FINAL ENERGY CONSUMPTION, not input.

        I totally agree that we don’t need to replace all the energy input due to thermal loss (as above), but surely the energy consumption will be the same (minus say 15% to allow for efficiency savings due to things like LED lighting and so forth).

        Unfortunately, it’s also changing far less than the required amount as well. End 2013 according to the GSR2015 suggests that FF and nuclear were 80.9% of final energy consumption.

        At a rate of change of 0.05% per year, to fall to zero will take 1,610 years. Now that’s ridiculous, as fewer FF plants will be built due to cheapness of wind and solar, but even a ten-fold increase in the rate would take 160 years…

        To stop catastrophic climate change, we need to be more like at 0 by 2050 (I think 2075 is too late), that’s 35 years, meaning we actually need an average 2-3% transition p.a. globally.

        (apologies for the use of CAPITALS – can’t use italics for emphasis on here!)

        • No, I’m not sure of the 81% number. It’s just what I found when I googled. SUNY page, so I assumed it was somewhat reliable.

          “I totally agree that we don’t need to replace all the energy input due to thermal loss (as above), but surely the energy consumption will be the same”

          If we’re starting out with 82% FF and 11% nuclear (also having a waste heat problem) then we’ve got 7% low waste primary waste energy in the mix. 40% of 91% won’t have to be replaced. 60% of 91% will have to be replaced. 54.6%. You like that number better?

          54.6% over 35 years is 1.56% per year.

          54.6% over 55 years is 0.99% per year.

          Yes, we are not now changing a 1.56% per year, nor are we changing at 0.99% per year. But, again, 2% to 3% for the countries with the dirtiest grids is reachable.

          I’m not sure why you feel a need to shout/all caps. Most of us read English. Sometimes I find it useful to emphasize a few words in a long quote and then I use with strong and /strong to embolden.

          • Apologies for the caps as emphasis, I didn’t know what to use at the time. In hindsight I should have used *this*

            Anyway, I’m not disagreeing with your Maths – its the starting point I question.

            My reading is that that 80.9% is final energy *consumption* – I.e. what is actually used (after waste due to heat at thermal power plants, cars etc.

            If that’s true, then that 80.9% does need to be replaced (minus a bit for efficiency, but add iin a bit for replacing the 10% that is ‘traditional biomass’)

            Is my logic incorrect?

          • There may be a problem with what sources mean by “final energy consumption”. Check this from Wiki –

            World total primary energy supply (TEPS), or “primary energy” differs from the world final energy consumption because much of the energy that is acquired by humans is lost as other forms of energy during the process of its refinement into usable forms of energy and its transport from its initial place of supply to consumers. For instance, when oil is extracted from the ground it must be refined into gasoline, so that it can be used in a car, and transported over long distances to gas stations where it can be used by consumers. World final energy consumption refers to the fraction the world’s primary energy that is used in its final form by humanity.”


            They are counting, I think, the energy that goes into cars as “final energy”. If so, then in this case the energy that is wasted in an ICE is counted as energy consumed.

            Then, further down the page, Wiki says –

            “In 2012, world energy consumption by power source was oil 31.4%, coal 29.0%, natural gas 21.3%, biofuels and waste 10.0%, nuclear 5.8%, and ‘other’ (hydro,peat, solar, wind, geothermal power, etc.) 1.1%. Oil, coal, and natural gas were the most popular energy fuels. [2]”

            In your linked paper I do not find a definition as to what they mean by “final energy consumption”. (Search yields two hits.) Are they using a Wiki-definition or “energy doing work/not wasted”? I get the feeling they are talking about energy purchased including both used and wasted.

          • “In 2012, world energy consumption by power source was oil 31.4%, coal 29.0%, natural gas 21.3%, biofuels and waste 10.0%, nuclear 5.8%, and ‘other’ (hydro,peat, solar, wind, geothermal power, etc.) 1.1%. Oil, coal, and natural gas were the most popular energy fuels. [2]”

            Oil 31.4%. Some (lots of) energy lost in extraction, refining and distribution. Lots lost in ICEs.

            Coal 29.0%. Some non-coal energy used in extraction, cleaning and shipping. Some coal energy used for electricity which is then used in the extraction, cleaning and shipping process. Lots lost in conversion to electricity.

            Natural gas 21.3%. Some non-NG and some NG energy used in the extraction and shipping process. Fair amount lost in peaker and NG plants.

            Some coal and NG is used for heating so the lost energy is less for that portion. Some oil as well.

            “Typical thermal efficiency for utility-scale electrical generators is around 33% for coal and oil-fired plants, and 56 – 60% (LHV) for combined-cycle gas-fired plants”


            Quite a bit lower for NG peaker plants.

            “Modern gasoline engines have a maximum thermal efficiency of about 25% to 30% when used to power a car. In other words, even when the engine is operating at its point of maximum thermal efficiency, of the total heat energy released by the gasoline consumed, about 70-75% is rejected as heat without being turned into useful work, i.e. turning the crankshaft.[1]”

            “Modern turbo-diesel engines are using electronically controlled, common-rail fuel injection, that increases the efficiency up to 50%”

            Wiki again –

            Starting up top, coal + oil + NG = 81.7%.

            Losses big. I’m comfortable using US energy – useful energy out as a proxy for the entire world. (Graph below)

            38.4 quads Energy Services + 59.0 quads Energy Rejected = 97.4 quads Total Energy Input.

            38.4 / 97.4 = 0.394. 39.4% input energy put to work, 60.6% energy wasted.

            Whatever the number is, there is a tremendous of energy that we now use that we will not need to replace.

          • kWh/gallon LPG0.01Distillate Fuel Oil0.00Still Gas1.02Petroleum Coke0.51Marketable Petroleum Coke0.01Catalyst Petroleum Coke0.51Other Petroleum Products0.01Natural Gas0.77Coal0.00Purchased Electricity0.16Purchased Steam0.133.14

          • I do hope that RE is an avalanche just waiting to happen for the world’s sake.

            One comment though – Not sure how precise using the US numbers as a proxy for the world is, as the US is much more wasteful than any other country, except Australia and Canada (who are on a par more or less).

            European consumption per capita is about 1/2 of that of the US.

            Obviously still huge amounts of waste, but not so much. However, Europe is already miles ahead of the US in transitioning.

            I’m not sure whether being more energy efficient is helpful or a hindrance – less cheap ground to gain, however less needed to replace….

          • We’re talking about plant inefficiency/waste, not final use waste. EU cars are likely more efficient but I’m not sure their coal and gas plants are. The US likely has more efficient coal and gas plants than many other countries.

            It doesn’t matter (for this thought exercise) if Americans use electric toothbrushes and Europeans use manual brushes. It’s about the amount of the primary energy source that has to be replaced. If coal plants are 33% efficient then we can replace a 1,000 MW coal plant with 333 MW of wind/solar output.

            No country’s vehicle fleet is 50% efficient. We’ll need to replace less than 50% of the initial energy we get from (transportation) oil.

          • I think REN21 use the same definitions as the IEA.

            My understanding was that TEPS was before losses and Final Energy Consumption was afterwards – and this included heat loss from thermal plants.

            Hence why FEC is only 2/3 of TEPS

            However, if FEC does include energy lost to waste heat from thermal engines and plants, then I accept the premise of your calculations.

            It does seem odd that IEA and EIA and various others haven’t taken this into account in their calculations (again Greenpeace seem to be the only ones to do so)

          • I find nothing done by the EIA and IEA prediction offices odd any longer. As far as I am concerned they are as reliable as Fox News.

            While I find some of Greenpeace’s actions a bit over the top I’m gaining confidence in the reports they produce.

            As for my calculations (which are obviously “rough”) start by finding a source of global primary energy inputs that you trust. Percentage from coal, oil, hydro, renewables.

            If ~80% of primary energy comes from fossil fuels there is obviously no way that “80% fossil fuels” to appear at the final “energy put to work” level. There are huge energy losses getting from the coal mine (or coal train) to you coffee grinder chopping up the morning beans. We just need to replace the kinetic energy that spins the blades.

            If coal plants are only 33% efficient then the kinetic energy we need to replace is only ~33% of what went in the front end with coal.

          • Here’s something that might be an interesting exercise. Take the (a bit outdated) graphic that compares H2 FCEVs and EVs in terms of “starting electrical energy” and final kinetic energy and redo it for coal vs. wind or solar.

            Start with coal in the mine and electricity from the turbine/panel. This should give a good idea of how much energy we have to replace.

            (Remember, amount of electricity to be replaced and not cost. Wind and solar are hugely cheaper than new coal generation.)

      • I really hope you’re right. I thought that if, right now, we zero’d our CO2/methane emissions, the amount already in atmosphere would take us well over 2 deg C. So it would take a far more precipitous drop than you describe to prevent a much bigger rise. I’m thinking Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Centre for…… And I know he’s far from alone.

        I quote from Wikipedia:

        “In early 2011 a paper he co-authored with Alice Bows was published in a special issue of a Royal Society journal with other papers from the above conference. The Anderson and Bows “analysis suggests that despite high-level statements to the contrary, there is now little to no chance of maintaining the global mean surface temperature at or below 2°C. Moreover, the impacts associated with 2°C have been revised upwards, sufficiently so that 2°C now more appropriately represents the threshold between ‘dangerous’ and ‘extremely dangerous’ climate change.” [7]

        “Put bluntly, while the rhetoric of policy is to reduce emissions in line with avoiding dangerous climate change, most policy advice is to accept a high probability of extremely dangerous climate change rather than propose radical and immediate emission reductions.”

        • I’m just going with the latest IPCC models which (IIRC) say ‘zero CO2 by 2070’ gives a decent shot at staying below 2C.

          I think we should aim for zero by 2050. And I hope as we move into the 2020s and 2030s we find ways to get to zero by 2040.

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