A new report by the World Wildlife Fund has concluded that China can meet its commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions and increase its share of renewable energy.
More than reaching its commitments, the WWF also believes China’s goals are economically and technically feasible. In fact, the report finds that China has the technical potential to generate 84% of its electricity needs through renewable energy sources by 2050 — and at a much lower cost than relying on their traditional fuel of choice, coal.
The report comes at an opportune time, as nations gather in Paris for the COP21 UN climate negotiations.
“China has an important opportunity here at the UN climate negotiations to further marshal support toward a strong agreement,” said Samantha Smith, Leader of WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative. “Our data shows that the targets China has set are not only ambitious, but entirely realistic. This year we’re expecting China’s energy-related CO2 emissions to flatline or even to decrease – continuing and accelerating these encouraging trends are critical to the world’s future. Today’s report shows that this future is within reach, and at a fraction of the cost of the country’s current path.”
The report, China’s Future Generation 2.0, commissioned by WWF and written by and employing analysis from the Energy Transition Research Institute (Entri), based its assumptions on only modest technological innovation, and found China could meet the commitments it made in its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), submitted to the UN ahead of COP21: specifically, that it would peak its overall carbon emissions and generate 20% of its primary energy from non-fossil fuels by 2030.
China could also eliminate coal from its power mix entirely by 2050, according to the report’s conclusions.
“This report shows us what is possible,” said Lo Sze Ping, CEO of WWF-China. “To achieve this highly efficient and renewable powered future, political will is the critical ingredient. The sooner the Chinese government releases clear energy transition signals, the more we can assure sustainable growth of China’s economy.”
The authors of the report acknowledge the rapid progress China has made in only the last two years, and the international attention China’s goals and policies have garnered. International support and industry investment have skyrocketed, making China a ripe opportunity for the renewable energy industry. The report therefore follows on from this position, analyzing four scenarios — Baseline, High Efficiency, High Renewables, and Low Carbon Mix — and calling on China’s leaders to attend to the following:
- enact new stringent standards for air conditioners, water heaters, motors, and lighting
- abandon plans for coal gasification
- accelerate power sector reforms to optimize electricity dispatch and set electricity prices for peak load management