China's international target is rated Inadequate. An assessment is difficult because details on the basis of the proposed target, such as assumed emissions or GDP growth, were not provided.
We compared various quantifications of the Chinese target. Using different data sources and future GDP growth rates, the target to reduce emissions per GDP is close to the business as usual. The second target of 15% non-fossil energy adds reductions beyond BAU for most studies. The impact of the third target on forestry is small.
Recent energy and emissions data combined with China’s 12th Five-year plan announced in March 2011 indicate that China is set to not only meet its Cancun Agreement emissions intensity pledge, but is likely to go beyond it. However, at the same time, largely due to faster than expected economic growth, emissions in 2020 are likely to be higher than previous estimates. China’s international emissions intensity target (carbon dioxide emissions/GDP) of 40-45% reduction by 2020 from 2005 levels and its target to achieve a share of 15% non-fossil energy consumption translates into emissions of about 13 GtCO2e by 2020. However, this is higher than our previous estimate as it is based on economic growth assumed to be higher than the planned 7% per year. The lower estimate of the pledge shown in the graph relates to this lower economic growth rate. National action not included in the Cancun pledge could reduce China’s emissions even further.
It is to be welcomed that China has proposed a quantitative emission target that allows for international verification and also national implementation. As this is China's own, unconditional contribution, further reductions could be possible if financial resources are made available.
Substantial uncertainties remain in the estimate of China’s current emissions.
"China will endeavour to lower its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 compared to the 2005 level, increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 15% by 2020 and increase forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from the 2005 levels." The intensity target was proposed in November 2009 and submitted to the Copenhagen Accord on 28 January 2010 with the other targets on energy and forests. China is implementing various measures with effect on greenhouse gas emissions.
Government announcement, submitted under the Copenhagen Accord and acknowledged under the Cancun Agreements
China has not provided official emission or GDP projections together with the target nor the effects of their climate plans on total emissions. Our assumptions are based on a comparison of various sources, including the WEO 2011, ERI 2009 data, China Statistical Report, World Bank and IMF. The uncertainty of China’s current emissions is substantial.