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Low-carbon energy key to future power

By LI HONGYANG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-10-03 07:47
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Workers install solar power generation panels in Dinghai district of Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, on July 9. [Photo by Yao Feng/For China Daily]

Nation envisions green transformation led by development of nonfossil fuels

Experts have said the transition to a low-carbon energy system is key for China to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, a clear goal that will push all sectors to make greater efforts toward green transformation of the country's economic structure.

China aims to see carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality-the realization of net zero carbon dioxide emissions-before 2060, President Xi Jinping announced on Sept 22 while addressing the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly via video.

Du Xiangwan, honorary director of China's National Expert Committee on Climate Change, said that although consumption of fossil fuels, especially coal, has powered global economic growth, the most important thing now is to reduce coal consumption to realize energy transition.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that last year in China, coal accounted for 57 percent of primary energy consumption-the energy that is harvested directly from natural resources.

"The proportion far surpassed the global average, which was roughly 20 percent. To reduce carbon emissions, technology should be advanced to reduce coal consumption during the production process in industrial sectors such as steel," Du said at a seminar on Wednesday that discussed how to achieve the emission targets.

He Jiankun, deputy director of the committee, said that coal consumption in China must reach its peak as soon as possible and then decrease during the upcoming 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period.

"The country needs to replace coal with nonfossil fuels such as wind power and solar energy in a faster way," he said.

Last year, China's nonfossil fuels accounted for 15.3 percent of energy consumption, up 7.9 percentage points compared with 2005, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

"However, to achieve carbon neutrality, the proportion needs to reach above 70 percent to lay a foundation for low-carbon transition," He said.

"The reform of high energy-consuming industries such as those related to building materials should play a leading role in low-carbon energy transition. Coastal cities should also go first and reach peak carbon emissions way ahead of 2030."

Since 2010, China has carried out pilot low-carbon projects in 81 cities, 52 industrial parks and more than 400 low-carbon communities, according to the ministry.

Zhou Dadi, a member of China's National Expert Committee on Climate Change, said that not only practitioners from the environment and ecology but all sectors should reach a consensus about the goal, as China is determined to take responsibility and contribute to the international community.

"The concrete targets will push all sectors to focus on climate change and better fulfill their environmental duty," he said.

"After enterprises and government departments clarify the goal and strive for it together, we can achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. It is good that our country has started to consider a low-carbon society before the issue becomes too hard to tackle."

Zhou also clarified that a low-carbon society does not mean a poorer life. "Low-carbon designed houses, for example, will give people a higher-quality and more comfortable living environment," he said.

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