This study assesses the potential for China to significantly reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to 2050, with a focus on CO2 from energy and industrial emissions. The study uses modelling by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Imperial College London, to undertake a detailed analysis of the key technologies that could be deployed in China as part of a low carbon transition. The study also assesses the challenges and opportunities, in terms of a range of factors including R&D requirements, costs and use of resources, facing China and the international community in achieving such a transition.
Key outcomes are that there are feasible pathways for China to significantly decarbonise its economy by 2050, using a range of commercial and pre-commercial technologies, and that decarbonisation of the electricity sector and energy efficiency across all of the major energy-using sectors (transport, buildings and industry) will be critical. Many important technologies (including a range of electricity generation technologies such as solar, wind and carbon capture and storage) are only likely to be deployed with specific technology support including some form of long-term, stable carbon price. In addition, energy efficiency measures will require careful and effective regulatory and enforcement mechanisms. Thus, experience from the international community in developing trading schemes and regulatory and monitoring mechanisms could be highly beneficial.
The challenges and opportunities of a low carbon pathway should be set in the context of a business-as-usual pathway for China, which presents a range of challenges of its own, resulting from a likely continued reliance on coal and oil.