‘Without a carbon cap, you can’t provide strong support for a carbon peak’

(Eco Business, 18 Mar 2021) Provinces struggled to hit energy intensity and energy consumption targets in the last Five Year Plan, prompting debate about the suitability of these targets and calls for an absolute carbon cap.

Over the last 15 years, China’s “dual controls” – of energy intensity targets and caps on total energy consumption – have helped drive its energy transition and low-carbon development.

During the 2015-2020 period, China had a national target for a reduction in energy intensity of 15 per cent. The newest Five Year Plan outline, approved last week, targets a further 13.5 per cent cut by 2025.

Total energy consumption targets are due to be defined in the forthcoming Special 14th FYP for Energy Development. Once these national-level targets have been set, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) will allocate specific targets to provincial-level governments to guide, and limit, their energy and development plans over the coming five years.

Late last year, several provinces were struggling to meet their targets, even more so than in previous years, with the difficulties exacerbated by Covid-19. Some provinces took the drastic measure of cutting off power to comply, prompting an examination of the efficacy of those targets.

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Eco Business, 18 Mar 2021: ‘Without a carbon cap, you can’t provide strong support for a carbon peak’