China releases key documents on carbon peaking and neutrality

China’s route to peaking emissions by 2030 and reaching carbon neutrality by 2060 has been sketched out in two documents released this week in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow. Part of the “1+N” policy package, the documents will form the backbone for more detailed upcoming policy on achieving the carbon goals.
On Sunday (24 October), the State Council issued its “Working Guidance for Carbon Dioxide Peaking and Carbon Neutrality”. This is the master document for future climate policy making – the “1” in the “1+N” – issued from the highest level of government. The most eye-catching target is to ensure “at least 80%” of energy consumption is from non-fossil fuels by 2060, though this figure had been used last year in modelling by Tsinghua University. Other than that, the guidance reaffirms key targets such as 25% non-fossil fuel energy consumption by 2030 and a 65% decline in energy consumption per unit of GDP by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.
The second document, “Action Plan for Carbon Dioxide Peaking Before 2030”, was released on Tuesday (26 October). This document again confirms previously announced targets rather than revealing new ones. It is understood to be one of an unspecified number of “N” documents that will be released to flesh out the decarbonisation policy roadmap in different sectors. The action plan includes a target of 20% non-fossil energy consumption by 2025, including by installing 80 GW of new hydropower between 2021 and 2030. The non-fossil energy targets also include installing 1,200 GW of wind and solar by 2030. Some commentators saw this as conservative given the scale of China’s wind and solar expansion in recent years.
The climate community now awaits China’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution to reducing emissions, which is expected to be released before COP26 begins on Sunday.