Carbon peaking plan for urbanisation released

The central government has released a carbon peaking and neutrality blueprint for China’s urbanisation and rural development.

The latest in a growing catalogue of sectoral blueprints is ambitious in scope. It proposes to peak carbon emissions from the urban and rural construction sector before 2030 and to “fundamentally reverse the trend of large-scale construction, big energy consumption, and high emissions.”  

Jointly released on Wednesday, 13 July, by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the National Development and Reform Commission, the plan promotes a wide range of energy-saving technologies and includes a number of time-bound targets, including:

  • Retrofit public buildings in key cities so, as a whole, they are 20% more energy efficient by 2030 
  • Ensure that by 2025 half of newly built factories have rooftop solar installations 
  • Increase electrification of buildings so that by 2030 over 65% of energy consumption from buildings is in the form of electricity
  • Reach a 55% utilisation rate of construction waste by 2030

Urban and rural development intersects with a number of high-emission sectors such as energy, transport and industry. The plan calls for increasing the efficiency and service quality of public transport and encouraging the use of electric vehicles, including by installing more battery charging and changing stations. It calls for better utilisation of surplus heat from industrial processes and from nuclear power generation, which China is currently expanding rapidly.

The plan also addresses land and water usage, both heavily affected by urban development. For example, by 2030 urbanised areas across the country should achieve an average of 45% permeable land, a measure to protect against flooding. Cities are also instructed to maintain green land, which should reach 38.9% of urban land by 2030.

Urbanisation in China over the last three decades has been both a response to and a major driver of GDP growth and economic development. It has also been a major contributor to emissions. The carbon peaking and neutrality plan released this week is set to have far-reaching impacts on the modalities of this critical process in China’s development story.

Read our report on the roll out of rooftop solar on China’s public buildings.