CAT comment on China's 14th Five Year Plan


There is no significant change in China’s narrative of dirty (coal) vs clean energy: the plan includes a high promotion of both.

China has re-committed to peaking CO2 emissions before 2030 and states there will be a plan to implement it. But the question is whether its continued focus on boosting coal (and oil and gas) is consistent with this goal.

The CAT has analysed China’s draft Paris Agreement 2030 target, submitted last year, which the CAT rated “Highly Insufficient”. The final version is expected next month, but signals suggest there will not be any major revisions.

That China will formulate medium- and long-term energy development plans emphasising growth and storage of clean energy, is encouraging.

Reducing the carbon intensity of GDP by 18% and energy intensity of GDP by 13.5% in the next five-year period is similar to the goals in the previous 13th Five Year Plan (FYP). Now with Beijing abstaining from setting a five-year GDP target, China’s emissions growth over the period are even more uncertain.

The 14th FYP (Economic and Social Development) reiterates China’s net zero target (2060), which the Climate Action Tracker last year concluded that, if met, this could shave 0.2-0.3˚C off global warming in 2100. But there’s nothing new in this plan that would set China in that direction.

“In terms of the climate, initial indications from China’s 14th Five Year Plan are underwhelming and shows little sign of a concerted switch away from a future coal lock-in,” said Swithin Lui, the Climate Action Tracker’s China lead, of NewClimate Institute.

“While it’s positive that this plan does reiterate its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2060, and peaking emissions before 2030, there is little sign of the change needed to reach that goal. We hope to see a coal cap in the more detailed energy sector and climate five year plans later this year, which will help shed light for the international community on the future of China’s emissions growth and its climate commitments.”

“It’s disappointing that China is placing such a large focus on continuing its reliance on coal - and oil and gas,” said Climate Analytics Chief Executive Bill Hare.

“The world is relying on its largest emitter to step up on climate change - yet we see little of such action in this plan.  There is no clear pathway for China to reach its net zero commitment - the government could do well to revise and strengthen its 2030 target to get its emissions onto that track.”

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