China’s economic development and carbon emission reduction go hand in hand and reinforce each other. The current contradiction is one of the challenges China faces in the process of economic transformation and upgrading to achieve high-quality development. Although there may be some pains in this process, only by being determined to face up to the problems and solve them can we achieve leapfrog and high-quality development of the Chinese economy.
More than 20 provinces in China are suffering from power shortages due to coal shortages and soaring coal prices. In this regard, some Westerners are concerned that China will not be able to meet its carbon peak and carbon neutral targets on time if it redevelops coal power on a large scale.
Such fears are misplaced. Coal is a high-carbon energy source. In the context of climate change and low-carbon development, it is the general trend of the world to gradually reduce the use of coal, and China is no exception. However, a good understanding of reality helps to make objective and prudent judgments. In addition to increasing demand, the main reason for China’s coal shortage is insufficient supply. The reason behind it is related to China’s efforts in recent years to reduce the proportion of coal in the energy mix. In the supply-side structural reform that began in 2016, China has shut down 1 billion tons of coal capacity and eliminated or closed a large number of coal mines. The coal shortage reminds us that development is the premise and basis for solving all problems. We should promote low-carbon transformation in a balanced and orderly manner while ensuring stable and safe energy supply.
But this does not mean that China will slow down its low-carbon development process. Recently, a series of high-profile intensive heavy file, including the central committee of the communist party of China, issued by the State Council “about complete and accurate to fully implement the new concept of development to do a good job of carbon of peak carbon neutral opinion”, the State Council issued the action plan for peak carbon up to 2030 years ago, as well as “China’s response to climate change policy and action”, the white paper, Implementation plans will also be released in key sectors such as energy, industry, construction and transportation, as well as in key industries such as coal, power, steel and cement. China has demonstrated its determination to achieve carbon peak and carbon neutrality with concrete actions. It has reaffirmed that it will introduce capacity control policies for coal power generation, coal chemical industry and other industries to accelerate the pace of coal reduction. The growth of coal consumption was strictly controlled during the 14th Five-Year Plan period and gradually decreased during the 15th Five-year Plan period. We will coordinate the development of coal and power plants, ensure their supply and adjust peaks, strictly control the installed scale of coal and power plants, and speed up energy-saving upgrading and flexible transformation of existing coal and power units. At the same time, China reiterated that it will build a new type of power system with new energy as the main body, and improve the power grid’s ability to absorb and regulate a high proportion of renewable energy.
In fact, the share of coal-fired power generation in China’s total installed power generation capacity has dropped from 65.7 percent in 2012 to 49.1 percent in 2020, a historic leap of less than half. China ranks first in the world in cumulative installed capacity of hydropower, wind power and photovoltaic power generation.
Energy shortage is a common challenge facing the world at present, and its core problem is the balance and coordination between energy supply and carbon emission reduction in economic development. As far as China is concerned, reducing carbon emissions is not only China’s solemn commitment to the world, but also an integral part of China’s economic transformation and upgrading and the realization of high-quality development. In other words, China’s economic development and carbon emission reduction go hand in hand and reinforce each other. The current contradiction is one of the challenges China faces in the process of economic transformation and upgrading to achieve high-quality development. Although there may be some pains in this process, only by being determined to face up to the problems and solve them can we achieve leapfrog and high-quality development of the Chinese economy. To fully, accurately and comprehensively implement the new vision on development, we must not give up eating for fear of choking or turn back when confronted with obstacles. At the same time, we should not ignore the complexity, long-term nature and arduous nature of the current problems, and we should not expect to achieve carbon peak and carbon neutrality overnight.
We believe that the future is bright and the road is tortuous. We have every reason to be confident that China will reach its carbon peak and carbon neutral targets as scheduled.