Overall rating
Highly insufficient

Policies and action
against modelled domestic pathways

Highly insufficient
< 4°C World

NDC target
against modelled domestic pathways

Highly insufficient
< 4°C World

NDC target
against fair share

Highly insufficient
< 4°C World
Climate finance
Not assessed
Net zero target


before 2060

Comprehensiveness rated as

Land use & forestry
Not significant

Policies and action
against modelled domestic pathways

Highly insufficient

China's suite of sectoral 14th FYPs set out a range of mitigation measures to prepare the country for a post-coal transition and the country is on track to meet its energy sector targets.

Fossil fuel dependence will continue but renewables are also being deployed at a rapid pace: it remains uncertain whether the acceleration of renewables will be sufficient to meet the growth in energy demand and reduce dependence on coal and gas at the same time.

China’s emissions under current policies are projected to peak around 2025 and remain at high levels until 2030. In our more ambitious range, China begins to cut emissions after 2025 but the decrease is not significant enough. Emissions in 2030 in our upper bound have risen 1% from the previous assessment, while the lower bound has been revised down -3%.

After revising our projections to incorporate the latest policy developments and analysis, we project GHG emissions levels to between 13.8 to 14.3 GtCO2e in 2030.

The CAT rates China’s policies and action as “Highly Insufficient” as current policy projections match China’s modelled domestic pathways consistent with global warming of over 3°C and up to 4°C by the end of the century (if all countries had this level of ambition). The “Highly Insufficient” rating indicates that China’s climate policies and action in 2030 need substantial improvements to be consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit. China is expected to implement additional policies with its own resources but will also need international support to implement policies in line with full decarbonisation.

Further information on how the CAT rates countries (against modelled domestic pathways and fair share) can be found here.

Policy overview

China’s policy projections have been updated to reach GHG emission levels (excl. LULUCF) of 13.8 to 14.3 GtCO2e/yr in 2030 - a roughly fourfold increase in total GHG emissions from 1990 levels.

By 2030, China’s NDC targets aim to have non-fossil fuels make up around 25% of primary energy consumption and increase wind and solar power capacity to 1,200 GW (MEE of China, 2022). By 2025, China’s 14th Five Year Plans (FYP) for energy and renewables aim to have a 20% non-fossil share in primary energy consumption and a 39% share in generation, with renewables making up half of the country’s installed capacity and half of incremental growth in power demand (NDRC, 2022).

The CAT projects China will exceed all of its energy-related targets well ahead of time at both ends of our projections with renewable capacity installations in China growing exponentially. In our conservative end of the range (CPP max), combined non-fossil capacity is expected to surpass 2,500 GW in 2030 off the back of wind and solar. By the end of 2023, solar and wind installations are expected to reach a total of 1,000 GW, a record increase of over 240 GW from 2022(CEC, 2023c).

In our optimisticscenario (CPP min) however, the pace of renewable integration ramps up even faster to add more than 300 GW annually. In this case, renewables will be able to meet growing energy demand while also substantially displacing coal and replacing the need for fossil gas in end-use sectors: China’s GHG emissions begin the first stages of structural decline as the country shifts from controlling energy to controlling carbon, although more action is needed to reach its carbon neutrality by 2060 target.

Our current policy scenario shows China reaching its 1,200 GW of solar and wind capacity five years ahead of the scheduled, 2030 target, echoing findings from other studies and reports(IEA, 2023c; Mei et al., 2023). Despite this, it is highly uncertain whether China’s deployment and integration are large and fast enough to displace fossil fuels amidst growing energy demand and continued concerns about energy security.

China's energy dependence on fossil fuel consumption is the most important single factor driving global emissions: the country increased coal production by 10.5% in 2022 to record levels and now still has over 243 GW of coal-fired power plants in the pipeline despite the envisaged phase-down (CREA and GEM, 2023; Global Energy Monitor et al., 2023; NBS of China, 2023). A fuel switch to gas may also be looming as China recently became the largest liquified natural gas (LNG) importer and holder of the most long-term purchase agreements globally (Stapczynski, 2023).

China launched its Emissions Trading Scheme in 2021 (after a decade of pilot projects) to bring down the emissions intensity of coal plants and encourage earlier retirement for a young coal-fired power plant fleet. The ETS covers over 2,000 companies in the power sector (coal and gas plants), 10% of global carbon emissions, and recorded over 10 billion yuan (USD 1.4bn) in total transactions by the end of 2022. However, the scheme has been inhibited by challenges in power market interactions, data quality and ETS design, limiting the ability of carbon prices to drive sector decarbonisation (Qin et al., 2022). The ETS is planned to expand to seven other sectors in the future, with high-emitting industry subsectors such as iron and steel, cement, and aluminium the most likely to be included, in line with the EU’s recently announced Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) regulations (Tan, 2022).

China's industry sector is targeting electrification and efficiency improvements to meet demand and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Steel, cement production, and aluminium are the main drivers of emissions in the industry sector; all the subsectors have aligned with the economy-wide carbon peaking timeline before 2030 (MIIT of China, NDRC and MEE, 2022). However, public researchers and industry associations have previously indicated in drafts or consultations that an earlier peaking timeline is feasible (e.g., China Dialogue, 2022).

The development of carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) and hydrogen solutions have also become a priority area for research to decarbonise hard-to-abate sectors. China, the world's largest producer of hydrogen, published its national hydrogen strategy and is targeting modest production of 100,000–200,000 tonnes of renewable-based hydrogen by 2025, which could reach 100 million tonnes by 2060 (Yao, 2022).

China's transport sector consumes almost 50% of oil consumption nationally when consumption of the fuel is due to peak before 2030. To transition to a low-carbon sector, the government has spent decades prioritising new energy vehicles (NEVs) sales, including battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Despite ending NEV subsidies for producers in 2022, the NEV market share reportedly exceeded 25% in 2022 (already exceeding a 20% target in 2025); the government aims for a 40% market share by 2030 (Government of China, 2021; Pontes, 2023).

China has also been prioritising improving accessibility and electrification of its public transport systems, with the expansion of national high-speed rail and local electric public transport systems prominent in its COVID economic stimulus packages and latest FYPs. The government aims to extend its massive high-speed rail network by another 120,000 km by 2035 and have it cover more than 95% of cities with a population greater than half a million by 2025 and has launched a pilot program for cities to procure around two million electric public vehicles before 2035 (O. Wang, 2022; CGTN, 2023).

While China's real estate market is in a downturn, and investment in new construction projects is expected to slow, the stock of projects under construction and the growing demand for higher living standards will still present challenges in terms of energy consumption and emissions in the construction sector. To address this, the Chinese government has outlined targets in its 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP) for Building Energy Efficiency and Green Building and Implementation Plan for Carbon Peaking in Urban and Rural Construction (MoHURD of China, 2022; MoHURD of China and NDRC, 2022).

The plan sets energy consumption caps in building operations, increases the energy efficiency of new buildings, and sets indicators for renovating existing buildings with efficiency measures and constructing ultra-low or zero-energy consumption buildings. The plans also contain indicators for increasing solar and geothermal applications to new buildings, raising the proportion of energy from renewable electricity, and reducing emissions intensity and energy intensity in residential and commercial buildings.

China has increased efforts to expand its forestry and grasslands, in part due to their role in achieving the country’s carbon peaking and carbon neutrality targets. The government has implemented various domestic forest conservation and afforestation policies, and in the 14th FYP, it has set a target to plant 36,000 km2 of new forest annually until 2025 to increase the country’s forest coverage (NGFA of China, 2021).

However, estimates of China’s forest carbon sequestration potential contain uncertainties and sinks from the forestry sector cannot be used as an excuse to delay emission reductions in other sectors. Internationally, China has increased its forestry pledge and signed the Glasgow Declaration on Forest and Land Use and separate joint agreements with the EU and the US on reducing deforestation. China chaired the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal in 2022, resulting in the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which contained 23 separate targets to achieve by 2030.

Sectoral pledges

In Glasgow, a number of sectoral initiatives were launched to accelerate climate action. At most, these initiatives may close the 2030 emissions gap by around 9% - or 2.2 GtCO2e, though assessing what is new and what is already covered by existing NDC targets is challenging.

For methane, signatories agreed to cut emissions in all sectors by 30% globally over the next decade. The coal exit initiative seeks to transition away from unabated coal power by the 2030s or 2040s and to cease building new coal plants. Signatories of the 100% EVs declaration agreed that 100% of new car and van sales in 2040 should be electric vehicles, 2035 for leading markets. On forests, leaders agreed “to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030”. The Beyond Oil & Gas Alliance (BOGA) seeks to facilitate a managed phase out of oil and gas production.

NDCs should be updated to include these sectoral initiatives, if they're not already covered by existing NDC targets. As with all targets, implementation of the necessary policies and measures is critical to ensuring that these sectoral objectives are actually achieved.

CHINA Signed? Included in NDC? Taking action to achieve?
Methane No Not applicable Not applicable
Coal exit No Not applicable Not applicable
Electric vehicles No Not applicable Not applicable
Forestry Yes Unclear Yes
Beyond oil and gas No No No

  • Methane pledge: China did not adopt the Global Methane Pledge. Methane is a significant source of GHGs emissions in the country—surpassing 1.4 GtCO2e/year since 2020 according to our estimates—split between the energy (~47%), agriculture (~39%) and waste (~14%) sectors.

    China’s updated NDC does not have explicit reduction targets for non-CO2 gases, though Measure 13 outlines their goal to accelerate control of these gases and phase out HFC gases under the Kigali Amendment.

    The long-awaited Methane Action Plan was published on 8 November, two years after the “U.S.-China Joint Glasgow Declaration on Enhancing Climate Action”, where the two largest global emitters stated their intent to cooperate to control and reduce methane emissions and China stated its intent to “develop a comprehensive and ambitious National Action Plan on methane, aiming to achieve a significant effect on methane emissions control and reductions in the 2020s”.

    While the plan sets basic directions to control methane emissions aross sectors as well as seting short-term targets on such measures as the utilisation of manure in livestock and, domestic waste recycling, and harmless disposal of sludge, it does not specify any quantitative emission reduction targets or commitments. A notable emphasis within the action plan is the prioritisation of establishing a methane measurement, reporting, and verification system, despite the absence of a firm commitment or a defined timeline at the moment. If China were to sign up to and implement the Global Methane Pledge, we calculate that it would reduce methane emissions by 420 MtCO2e/year in 2030.

  • Coal exit: China, the world's largest consumer of coal, has not adopted the coal exit. In its NDC, the country is committed to decreasing its reliance on coal (and fossil fuels in general), and has signalled a peaking of coal consumption by 2025. However, China has the world’s largest coal-fired power plant pipeline by far, with over 243 GW of domestic coal-fired power plants under construction and permitted.

    Although the peak of China’s coal capacity and consumption is uncertain in its NDC and other high-level medium-term policies, building (and utilising) additional coal capacity will make it more difficult to achieve its NDC’s non-fossil energy targets and long-term carbon neutrality targets. For more detail on coal developments, see the section on Energy Supply below.

  • 100% EVs: China did not adopt the EV target during COP26. Decarbonising transport is not explicitly part of China’s NDC commitments, although the country is prioritising the transition towards electrified transport. China has targets of 20% new energy vehicle sales by 2025 (already exceeded), and 40% by 2030 (Government of China, 2021).

  • Forestry: China signed the forestry pledge at COP26 on November 2, 2021, committing to end deforestation by 2030. While such a commitment is not part of China’s NDC, the document contains a target to increase the forest stock volume by 6 billion cubic meters from the 2005 level. For more details on China’s forestry policy developments, see the Forestry section below.

  • Beyond oil & gas: China has not signed up to the alliance and has no clear intention of phasing out oil and fossil gas production. China has shown intention in its 14th FYP to peak and plateau oil consumption before 2030, while gas will become an increasingly important fuel for China as it seeks to prioritise reducing coal consumption in the medium term.

Energy Supply

China’s immense energy consumption (where coal, oil, and gas supply 56%) is the largest contributor to global emissions (NBS of China, 2023). Fossil fuel dependence is continuing to serve as the foundation of the energy system and primary backup for energy security, as the build-up of coal reaches its highest levels and the expansion of capacity runs opposite to global trends.

Non-fossil energy sources, particularly wind and solar (but also hydro and nuclear), are all ramping up in the medium term and remain the primary objective for the energy system to prepare China for the post-coal era. Chinese energy policy continues to drive the growth of both clean and polluting sources as energy demand is expected to rise again in 2023 (and beyond): emissions in the short term continue to depend on extreme weather events and whether non-fossil fuel sources can keep up with energy demand.

Controlling coal and fossil-fuel consumption

Despite China’s intention to “strictly control coal consumption” before 2025 and to “phase down coal consumption” over the 15th FYP (2026–2030), since the country's power shortage in 2021 its short-term stance has moved heavily toward supporting fossil fuels, and particularly coal.. The government’s Work Report 2023 from the Two Sessions, China’s annual meeting of the top legislature and national political advisory bodies, re-emphasised coal’s importance to energy security and applauded the fuel’s role in the country avoiding a major energy crisis during the winter (State Council of China, 2023). The National Energy Administration’s “Blue Book on New Power System Development” (in consultation) still reinforces coal as the foundation of energy security (NEA, 2023a).

Policymakers responding to the top-level guidance by increasing coal production in 2022 by a staggering 10.5% to 4.6 billion tonnes, after a year that already produced a record high coal output (NBS of China, 2023). Energy data for the first half of 2023 shows a consistent increase in its domestic production of raw coal, crude oil, and natural gas, with year-on-year growth rates of 4.4%, 2.1%, and 5.4%, respectively (NEA, 2023c). This was accompanied by a growth in the consumption of all fossil fuels (NEA, 2023b; SxCoal, 2023). Thermal power consumption was up 16% (year-on-year) in the first half of 2023, primarily driven by a hydropower decline due to drought and the imperative to conserve water for generation during peak demand in the summer (Global Times, 2023; Myllyvirta, 2023).

While “in principle” the country no longer builds any more coal-fired power projects (whose sole purpose is to generate electricity), planners continue to build coal-fired power plants under two exceptions: to provide energy security and to support flexible peaking services under further development of renewable energy (China Energy News, 2022).

Policymakers have continued the expansion of coal-fired power plants under these pretences: China now has a total of 243 GW of coal-fired capacity in the pipeline, including 89 GW attributed to newly permitted or actively under construction coal power projects during the first half of 2023 (CREA and GEM, 2023). But this build-up occurs despite coal plants becoming more expensive to operate as cheaper renewables are added to the grid. High power generation costs, coupled with government-regulated electricity prices set at lower levels, have led to financial losses and generation inefficiencies for coal companies. Expanding the fleet will not address the essential imperatives of energy security and flexibility. Coal electricity costs in China are expected to more than double by 2050 as utilisation hours decline drastically after 2030.

However, China's efforts to establish a national electricity spot market by 2030 will provide additional solutions for maintaining energy security while realising a high penetration of renewable energy through increased interprovincial interconnectivity and real-time discovery of electricity prices. The NDRC will formally launch inter-provincial spot power trading by the end of 2023 in preparation for a national market, building on the spot power trading that has been implemented in a handful of provinces since 2019 (Howe, 2023).

To be compatible with a 1.5°C pathway, China would need to rapidly decrease the share of unabated coal in power generation with a complete phaseout before 2040 (Climate Action Tracker, 2023). China’s coal share of power generation was 62% in 2022 (see graph below) and could still reach levels of around 40-47% in 2030 and 28-30% in 2040 according to our current policy projections.

Coal power share in total electricity generation

However, as China eventually decreases its dependence on coal power and oil—the former is to peak in 2025 and the latter to peak and plateau before 2030—increased consumption of natural gas in addition to clean energy sources is likely. Energy companies in China have shifted its strategy towards securing more long-term gas contracts due to high and volatile spot prices and increasing demand, and hold the most LNG purchase agreements of any country (Corbeau and Yan, 2022; Stapczynski, 2023). China has existing plans to extend its gas pipeline infrastructure by 40%, which would double its LNG import capacity. These developments could potentially lead to stranded assets in the order of an estimated USD 89bn (Rozansky and Shearer, 2021; Aitken et al., 2022; Caixin, 2022).

The NEA reported an estimated growth in natural gas consumption of 5.5%-7% in 2023 (Li and Yep, 2023). According to China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the use of natural gas in the primary energy mix is expected to reach 12% in 2030 from 8% currently, which is reflected in our CPP max (Chow and Singh, 2021). In our CPP min, however, an accelerated ramp-up of renewables and electrification helps displace some need for fuel switching from coal to gas, primarily in the buildings (heat) and industry (iron and steel)sectors.

Renewable and non-fossil energy growth

Renewables are playing a larger and more obvious role in national energy security, despite the continuing strong focus on fossil fuels. In China’s NDC, non-fossil and renewable energy targets are set to the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to “around 25%” and installed capacity of wind and solar power to 1,200 GW by 2030 (MEE of China, 2022).

The 14th FYPs on energy and renewables also targets a 39% non-fossil share in generation (33% from renewables; 18% excluding hydro), a 30% share of electricity in final energy consumption, and at least half of incremental power demand growth be met by non-fossil sources by 2025 (NDRC, 2022; NDRC and NEA, 2022). Renewables should also make up half of the country’s total installed capacity by 2025, expected to reach roughly 3000 GW, as well as half of incremental growth in power demand (SASAC, 2021).

China is projected to overachieve these policies under current policies and trends: renewable energy capacity installations continue at a rapid pace in parallel with fossil fuels, keeping up with the nation’s electricity demand.

In the first half of 2023, renewable capacity dramatically increased by 109 GW, roughly doubling the amount installed in the first half of 2022. The collective capacity of wind and solar power reached 921 GW in September 2023 (NEA, 2023d), drawing close to the 70% milestone of the 2030 target in China’s NDC (nuclear is only a minor share). If all prospective projects are successfully built and commissioned, China could achieve its NDC target five years ahead of schedule by 2025 (Liqiang, 2023; Mei et al., 2023).

China's premier power sector industry authority (CEC) has revised its forecast for the 2023 wind and solar capacity additions from 180 GW to an astonishing 200 GW (CEC, 2023a). An annual deployment rate of 200 GW within our current policy projections would be able to chip away at China’s plateauing emissions before 2030. If developers were able to ramp up rates by another 50%, our projections show emissions could drop by as much as 600 MtCO2 from 2025. The Ministry of Ecology and Environment expects half of China’s energy consumption in 2045 to be satisfied with renewables, with the figure rising to 68% in 2060.

Nuclear power is also poised to assume a pivotal role in China's pursuit of carbon neutrality, with an expected 10% share of power generation in 2035 and 18% in 2060 (with a capacity of 400 GW). To achieve this target, the China Nuclear Energy Association (CNEA) anticipates approving six to eight new nuclear power units annually in the foreseeable future (Reuters, 2023).

While nuclear power is an important enabler for China’s energy transition as a source of low-carbon baseload power able to assuage energy security concerns, the economics and installation times for nuclear are still unfavourable (even in China) compared to wind and solar. We have not integrated hese projections of nuclear buildout in our current policy scenario projections pending further developments.

To encourage the consumption of renewable electricity, China expanded the scope of its domestic renewable energy certificate scheme to include all types of renewable projects in 2023, whereas only solar and onshore wind projects were included previously. The updated Green Electricity Certificates (GECs), which certify that its holder consumed electricity is generated from renewable sources, are now the only certificates recognising the production and consumption of renewable electricity in China (Yin, 223AD).

To be compatible with a 1.5°C pathway, China would need to have shares of renewable electricity generation reach at least 79% in 2030; we expect China to reach 45-51% by that time. Globally, all countries will need to have 95–100% renewable electricity shares by 2050 to be 1.5°C-compatible (Climate Action Tracker, 2023).


Industry is the largest energy-consuming sector in China, accounting for 58- 59% of the country’s final consumption in 2022 (IEA, 2023c). Half of the direct energy consumed in the sector currently comes from coal and fossil gas, although combined shares of the fossil fuels are expected to plateau in the next decade as China targets increasing electrification and efficiency to meet expected demand (IEA, 2023c). Steel and cement output for real estate and infrastructure construction are the main drivers of industry emissions and the primary cause of China’s dip in emissions in 2022.

Given the sector’s gargantuan energy consumption, decarbonisation of major industrial subsectors is critical—and central—to achieving national climate and energy targets. The government’s new industry peaking implementation plan has aligned the entire sector’s CO2 emissions peaking timeline with China’s 2030 NDC target, while the 14th FYP for Green Industry Development has matched the economy-wide energy and emission intensity reduction targets (MIIT of China, 2021; MIIT of China, NDRC and MEE, 2022).

China has set its carbon peaking targets for steel, cement, and aluminium for the year 2030, despite prior discussions regarding the feasibility of reaching these peaks by 2025. The delayed emission peaking timelines are to allow the sectors breathing space amidst energy and supply chain security concerns and to consolidate a less ambitious target that could be reached by all companies in a bid to tackle other industry concerns such as overcapacity and pollution (Guoping and Zou, 2022; Lin, 2022).

China also set interim objectives for 2025, including reducing the energy intensity of steel production by 2% and recycling 320 million tonnes of scrap steel, as well as reducing the energy intensity of cement production by 3% (from 2020 levels) (Bloomberg, 2021; EEO, 2021; China Dialogue, 2022; MIIT of China, 2022; MoHURD of China and NDRC, 2022).

Key emitting sectors, such as cement, steel, and aluminium are likely to be the first targeted in the scope expansion of the country’s ETS (Wang, 2021; Wulandari, 2022). While the inclusion of these sectors was already in the pipeline, the recent approval of Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) regulations by Europe (to be officially launched in 2026) has added a sense of urgency.

To cover sectors eligible under the CBAM phase 1, cement, aluminium and iron and steel, China is likely to accelerate the expansion of its ETS in the next 2-3 years, according to exchange officials and market participants (Yin, 2023). The MoU between the Chinese and German governments in June 2023 highlighted the focus on industrial emission reduction, especially in the cement, steel, chemical, and pulp and paper industries (German and Chinese Governments, 2023). To fully decarbonise China’s hard-to-abate sectors, the development of CCS/CCUS and hydrogen solutions have become priority strategy areas. CCUS will be a critical technology to help China drastically reduce emissions towards carbon neutrality in the long-term and has received increasing national attention in the last two decades, with objectives now focusing mainly on large-scale project demonstrations.

As of 2021, CCUS was highlighted in the last three FYPs, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) has encouraged provinces to pilot and demonstrate CCUS projects, and 29 provinces have already issued policies and plans related to the technology. China has commissioned three projects in 2023 and now has a project pipeline with the potential to capture around 10 MtCO2/year (IEA, 2023b). However, the efficacy of CCS has yet to be fully realised in any CCS project across the world

China published its national hydrogen strategy (2021–2035) in 2022, confirming the technology’s key role in China’s future energy system and mitigation efforts. While hydrogen is mainly produced from coal and gas, the plan targets a modest production of 100,000–200,000 tonnes of renewable-based hydrogen with renewable sources by 2025: this would constitute less than 1% of its production (Yao, 2022). The China Hydrogen Alliance estimates this could reach 100 Mt by 2060, accounting for 20 percent of the country’s final energy consumption (Nakano, 2022).

China finally ratified and started enforcing the Kigali Amendment in 2022 (Rudd, 2021). China reported that it halted the new production capacity of five of the 11 HFCs it produces (covering 75% of total HFC production) two years ahead of the freeze requirements (McKenna, 2022). According to our analysis, China would reduce emissions by a modest ~50 MtCO2e/year by 2030 under the Kigali Amendment’s phase-out schedule, although reductions could increase to almost 300 MtCO2e/year by 2045.


China’s transport sector is a vast consumer of energy with the sector accounting for 14% of final energy consumption and 43% of oil consumption nationally, with petrol cars the largest consumer and source of emissions (IEA, 2023c).

The government has signalled its continuing intent to accelerate the transition towards a low-carbon fleet, with sector action critical to meeting economy-wide targets of a 30% share of electricity in final energy consumption in 2025 and peak oil consumption during the 15th FYP period (2026 to 2030) (Government of China, 2021; NDRC and NEA, 2022).

China’s uptake of new energy vehicles (NEVs), including battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), started in the 1990s. The growth in NEV sales has been rapidly increasing due to subsidies dating back to 2009 and, more recently, investment boosts from pandemic recovery packages and strong national policy signals. In only the first five months of 2023, the production and domestic sales of NEVs grew by 45% and 47%, respectively (NDRC, 2023).

However, the government has been aiming to decouple the growth of NEVs with direct financial incentives due to accelerating market forces and the growing government costs of the subsidies. NEV subsidies for producers ended in 2022, although tax exemptions for consumers will continue until the end of 2027 (Xinhuanet, 2023). Research suggests the market is reaching maturity, with BEVs achieving price parity with conventional cars soon, even without accounting for fuel savings (Lutsey et al., 2021).

The NEV Industry Development Plan (2021-2035) targeted NEV sales to take 20% of the market share by 2025, but reports suggest market share already exceeded 25% in 2022 (BEVs alone reached over 20%) (Office of the State Council China, 2020; Fu Sheng, 2023; Pontes, 2023). China further targets an NEV market share target of 40% by 2030 (raised to 50% in select regions with high air pollution) (Government of China, 2021).

The penetration of NEVs is finally showing a visible reduction in pollutants and emissions, as the transition towards NEVs has shaved approximately 3% off petrol demand growth, and according to Sinopec, would cause China’s petrol demand to peak in 2023 (Myllyvirta and Qin, 2023). Our previous analysis of NEV penetration scenarios in China shows limited domestic mitigation impact as even 100% BEV sales by 2035 would mean negligible GHG emission reductions if not accompanied by rapid decarbonisation of the power sector (Climate Action Tracker, 2021). Even so, China’s rapid development of industrial infrastructure supporting its EV supply chain is critical to global electric mobility transitions: in 2022, China shipped 35% of the world’s exported electric cars, produced over 70% of lithium-ion batteries and other battery components, and was home to over half of the processing and refining capacity for lithium, cobalt and graphite (IEA, 2022a, 2023a).

To limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C, China will need to sell the last fossil fuel car by 2040 meaning a NEV market share of 100% (Climate Action Tracker, 2020a). Projections (from 2021) show China only reaching 70% by then, although this is the most rapid trajectory of any of the world’s largest emitters.

EV market share

The government has also been prioritising service and electrification of its public transport systems with the expansion of national high-speed rail and local electric public transport systems highly prominent in its COVID economic stimulus packages and latest FYPs. The 14th FYP for Green Transportation Development contains numerical targets to increase the growth of NEVs in urban public transport (including taxis, buses, delivery trucks, and more), while the government recently launched a pilot programme for cities to procure 80% of new public vehicles as electric from 2023-2035 (around two million vehicles) (MoT of China, 2021; Xue, 2023). Shenzhen, a city home to two pilot programmes for NEVs since 2009, became the first city in the world with an entirely electric public transport system in 2017 (including 16,000 buses and 20,000 taxis) (CGTN, 2023).

For intercity transport, the government has looked to expand its massive high-speed rail network. The network consisted of about 38,000 km in 2020 (all built since 2008) and is planning to extend this by another 120,000 km by 2035 (Jones, 2022; O. Wang, 2022). By 2025, the government aims to have the network cover more than 95% of cities with a population greater than half a million (State Council of China, 2022).


China’s buildings accounted for about 22% of the country’s final energy consumption in 2022, with almost 40% of the energy consumed coming from electricity (IEA, 2023c).

China constructs the most buildings globally, having, on average, constructed around four billion square metres of new floor space annually over the last decade (despite a slowdown since 2020) (National Bureau of Statistics, 2021). China’s continuing urbanisation trend is expected to come with a large increase in energy consumption and embodied emissions from the construction sector: the efficiency with which new floor space is built will impact China’s ability to meet headline energy intensity reduction goals in the economy (-13.5% from 2021 to 2025), while the production processes for carbon-intensive construction materials, such as steel and cement, are vital to China’s carbon peaking goals.

The 14th FYP for Building Energy Efficiency and Green Building and Implementation Plan for Carbon Peaking in Urban and Rural Construction outlines the government’s main targets for 2025, including setting energy consumption caps in building operations and increasing energy efficiency of new public and residential buildings by 20% and 30% (MoHURD of China, 2022; MoHURD of China and NDRC, 2022).

The 14th FYP and implementation plan also contain indicators for increasing solar and geothermal applications to new buildings by 2025, aims to have 55% of the energy consumed in urban buildings from electricity (fossil fuel sources supplied a third of energy consumption in buildings and half of all space heating in 2021), and raises the proportion of energy from renewable electricity to 8% (from 6% in the 13th FYP).

The document further sets indicators for renovating 350 million m2 of existing buildings with efficiency measures and constructing 50 million m2 of ultra-low or zero-energy consumption buildings. Retrofits of buildings are paramount in China’s bid for energy efficiency in the sector, as the average age of the building stock is young at 15 years, meaning almost half of the existing floor space could still exist by 2050 (IEA, 2021a).

China launched its Near Zero-emission Buildings Standard (NZEB) in 2019 to provide an appendage to the “Green Building Evaluation Standard” and the ongoing development of green buildings, defined as buildings that save energy, land, water, materials and are ecologically unharmful (MoHURD of China, 2019; Cao et al., 2022). More than 2.5 billion m2 of urban and commercial floor space has already been green-building certified since 2018, whereas almost 10 million m2 of NZEB projects have either been in construction or completed by 2020 (Zhang and Fu, 2021; Zhang et al., 2021).

For compatibility with the Paris Agreement temperature goals, China’s emissions intensity in residential and commercial buildings needs to be reduced by at least 65% in 2030, 90% in 2040, and 95–100% in 2050 below 2015 levels, while energy intensity needs to be reduced by at least 20% in 2030, 35–40% in 2040, and 45–50% in 2050 compared to 2015 levels. China will also need to achieve renovation rates of 2.5% per year until 2030 and 3.5% until 2040 to achieve a Paris-compatible buildings sector by 2050 (Climate Action Tracker, 2020b).


China’s government and the National Forestry and Grassland Administration (NFGA) have increased efforts on expanding the country’s forestry and grasslands, in part due to its slated role (as carbon sinks) in achieving China’s carbon peaking in 2030 and carbon neutrality in 2060 targets. China’s LULUCF sector, including forestry, represented a carbon sink of approximately 1.1 GtCO2e/year according to the latest national inventory for 2014 (Government of China, 2018).

The government has implemented many domestic forest conservation and afforestation policies, guided by the National Forest Management Plan (2016-2050), with varying degrees of success (e.g., Bloomberg, 2020).

In 2021, the government has issued plans to plant 36,000 km2 of new forest annually to 2025 in a bid to increase the country’s forest coverage to 24.1% as part of its overall 14th FYP goals (Stanway, 2021). This target increased from 23% in the 13th FYP, which was achieved in 2020 (SCIO of China, 2020). In the 14th FYP for Protection and Development of Forestry and Grassland (2021-2025), the NFGA details additional specific protection, restoration and afforestation goals in several priority ecological zones (Tibetan Plateau, Yellow River, Yangtze River, Northeast forest zone, Northeast desertification zone, Southern hilly zone) (NGFA of China, 2021).

To reach China’s carbon neutrality goal by 2060, carbon sequestration through afforestation or other means such as direct air capture, is assumed to play a critical role (He et al., 2021). However, assessments of the carbon sequestration potential of China’s forests contain uncertainties in science and accounting, leading to diverging estimations (e.g., Qiu et al., 2020; Yu et al., 2022). Thus, for Paris Agreement compatibility, sinks from the forestry sector cannot be used as an excuse to delay emissions reductions in other sectors (Climate Action Tracker, 2016).

In international fora, China updated its NDC forestry pledge to increase forest stock volume by six billion m3 by 2030 compared to 2005 levels (up from 4.5 billion m3). In 2021, China signed the Glasgow Declaration on Forest and Land Use (which commits to “halt and reverse” forest loss and land degradation by 2030) at COP26 and issued separate joint agreements with both the EU and the US on enhancing cooperation on reducing deforestation around the same period (DG for Climate Action, 2021; U.S. Department of State, 2021).

The government appears serious in respecting those objectives with action. In 2020, China revised its Forest Law for the first time in 20 years, with the most significant policy change being the implementation of a ban (in effect as of July 2020) on Chinese companies purchasing, processing, or transporting illegal logs (Client Earth, 2020; Mukpo, 2020). As China is the world’s largest importer of legal and illegal logs, with a large portion of its tropical timber imports (in 2018) coming from countries with weak governance, the revised law could have a large impact on curbing global deforestation (Global Witness, 2019; Interpol, 2019).

China chaired the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal in December 2022 (originally to be hosted in Kunming but rescheduled after years of delay due to COVID) which resulted in the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The landmark agreement contains 23 targets to achieve by 2030, including covering 30% of Earth’s land, coastal areas, and ocean under protected areas (UNEP, 2022).

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