China China

China falls five places to 38th in this year’s CCPI.

The country receives a low rating overall, but with mixed ratings across categories: very low for GHG Emissions and Energy Use, medium for Renewable Energy, and high for Climate Policy.

China is the world’s largest territorial emitter, but the CCPI country experts regard its climate policy as ambitious, with clear policies and timelines (with breakdowns into local and sectoral plans in some areas). It advanced its long-term strategy in 2020 with a target of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 (although its current GHG per capita and 2030 target are not aligned with a well-below-2°C trajectory).

Its 14th Five-Year Plan, published in March 2021, included energy and carbon intensity reduction targets, and it has since declared that fossil fuels will be less than 20% of the energy mix by 2060. China continues to develop renewable energy (its current renewables trend was rated very high), with support for biomass, 2030 targets for renewable generation and electric vehicles, and policies on green electricity purchase and trading. The experts, however, regard its coal phase-out as too slow, with plans to continue building coal-fired power stations because of energy supply concerns. China will only be able to climb in the CCPI rankings if the well-regarded policies work and emissions decline.

China’s international climate policy was rated medium, as its growing domestic ambition is beginning to shape its international policies – such as the decision to stop funding overseas coal-fired power stations. Continuing to build domestic coal power stations, however, undermines the key aim of ‘ending coal’ at COP26. Engagement between China and the US remains crucial for COP, but the countries’ complex trade and geopolitical relationship suggest a positive climate policy outcome is uncertain. The new climate pledge released the week before COP26 fell short of expectations, as it is not in line with 1.5°C.

The following national expert agreed to be mentioned as contributor for this year’s CCPI: Lin Jiaqiao (Rock Environment and Energy Institute (REEI));  Patrick Schröder (Chatham House)

3rd of December 2021: After finding a calculation error in the CCPI 2022, we have revised our data. This effects China`s ranking slightly (-1 rank).

Technical note: how to read the target comparison graph

The graph above shows the development of a country over the past years compared with its Paris compatible pathway and 2030 target. For all three quantitative categories of the CCPI, this visualisation gives an overview of where a country is right now, where it would need to be to fulfil the Paris Agreement promises and where it aims to be in 2030.

For GHG emissions per capita, the data includes LULUCF, as used for the emissions per capita indicator. This leads to the vast changes in emissions of some countries with high forest coverage.
The calculation of individual country target pathways is based on the common but differentiated convergence approach (CDC). It is based on the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” laid forth in the Framework Convention on Climate Change. All Annex I countries therefore have a decreasing pathway from 1990 onwards, starting at that year’s emissions. 60 years later, in 2050, these countries are expected to reach net zero emissions. All other countries, which did not reach the level of global average emissions in 1990, are allowed to increase emissions until the average is reached. But by latest 2015 these countries, too, have decreasing pathways and 60 years to reach net zero. These pathways start from the global average.

The Renewable Energy data is given in per cent of Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) and includes hydro energy, consistent with the respective CCPI indicator. As global distribution of Renewables (especially solar and wind) only started in the 2000s, the pathways in this category start in 2010. All countries have an equal goal: 100% Renewables in 2050, each starting from its 2010 value.

For Energy Use the Primary Energy Supply per capita is shown. All pathways for this category start at country’s 1990 values and meet at global average of 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES.
For 2°C and 1.5°C scenarios, a decrease in emissions by reducing the (growth in) energy use is as crucial as deploying renewable (or other low-carbon) technologies. The IPCC carried out a scenario comparison using a large number of integrated assessment models. From the scenarios available, we observe that the total amount of global energy use in 2050 has to be roughly the same level or a bit higher than it is today, with a margin of uncertainty. At the same time population will grow slightly between today and 2050. We therefore pragmatically chose the well-below-2° compatible benchmark to be “same energy use per capita in 2050 as the current global average”, which is 80 gigajoules per capita in TPES.