In a recent poll conducted by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), 70% of 89 experts from both industry and academia expressed confidence in China's ability to achieve its goal of reaching peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030, marking a positive shift compared to last year. The poll, published on Tuesday, highlighted optimism among respondents, with two experts even suggesting that China may have already peaked in emissions.
However, concerns persist regarding the magnitude of the emission peak. CREA reported that experts remain apprehensive about the potential elevation of peak emissions compared to previous levels. A majority of respondents anticipate the total to be at least 15% higher than the 2020 levels, raising questions about the feasibility of China's commitment amid ongoing approval of new coal-fired power stations to meet rising energy demands.
Despite doubts surrounding China's ability to fulfill its 2030 pledge, respondents, including 64 based in China, conveyed increased optimism, attributing it to post-pandemic economic conditions expediting the energy transition. Notably, half of the experts surveyed by CREA believe that China will achieve peak primary energy consumption before the end of this decade.
China's stance on phasing out fossil fuels is expected to be a key point of discussion at the upcoming COP28 climate talks in Dubai. While Beijing remains reluctant to commit to such a phase-out, it has signaled willingness to endorse a new global plan aimed at tripling renewable energy capacity. Additionally, in an agreement with the U.S., China committed to accelerating the substitution for coal, oil, and gas generation to achieve meaningful absolute power sector emission reductions within this decade.
Lead analyst Lauri Myllyvirta from CREA suggested last week that China's emissions may already be in a “structural decline,” pointing to the potential of renewable sources to meet the growing energy demand. As the international community awaits developments at the COP28 talks, the trajectory of China's emissions and its commitment to the energy transition remain subjects of global interest.