China’s emission intensity falls 35% in 10 years

China is halfway to reducing the emission-intensity of its economy to zero, finds the 2023 Carbon Neutrality Progress Report by Tsinghua University.

To define “carbon neutrality progress”, the report compares countries’ 2019 greenhouse gas emission intensity – meaning CO2 equivalent emissions per unit of economic activity or output – to their peak intensity. Less than one-third of countries are halfway to zero, it finds. Among the largest 20 economies, only China, the US, Germany and the UK are.

The Tsinghua research team employed 169 indicators from four areas – goals, technology, finance, international cooperation – to evaluate every country’s progress towards carbon neutrality, reports China News Agency.

The report ranks China fifth for carbon-neutral policy action. In 2020, the country set targets to peak its emissions before 2030 and achieve emission neutrality before 2060. According to official statistics, in the past ten years, an average annual energy consumption growth rate of 3% has supported an average annual economic growth of about 6%, while cumulative emission intensity has dropped by more than 35%.

An analysis by Zero Carbon Knowledge Bureau, part of Energy magazine, finds that 151 countries around the world have proposed carbon neutrality goals, covering 91% of carbon emissions. The emission intensity of 86% of all countries has begun to decline.

Wang Can, director of the Pollution Reduction and Carbon Reduction Collaborative Center of the Tsinghua Carbon Neutrality Institute, said: “Proposing carbon neutrality goals has become a global trend, but there is still much room for improvement in the type, scope, fairness and other factors of the goals.”

The Tsinghua report shows that most countries need to accelerate their decarbonisation, said Caixin. The emission intensity of 27 developing countries is still rising, mainly in Asia and Africa, and these may become new emission hotspots in the future. There are gaps in the implementation of global carbon neutrality goals, technological innovation, investment and financing, and international cooperation, the report found.

Read China Dialogue‘s previous analysis on China’s carbon neutrality policy evolution.