China's per capita emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) will remain below US levels until at least 2025, said an official with the state economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
"This will mean less pressure from the international community for more drastic measures, and it allows China to pursue a more flexible model for rapid economic development," said Ru Fangji, a senior engineer with the NDRC.
China is thought to have overtaken the US as the world's top producer of greenhouse gases, but with a population more than four times as large, per capita figures are more meaningful.
Speaking at a steel conference, Ru said that after 2025, China would work even harder to tighten environmental regulations and reduce emissions.
"From 2030 to 2050, China will enter a period of extremely strict environmental controls," he added.
The NDRC has been struggling to merge, phase out or shut down high energy-consuming and heavily polluting industries, with steelmakers often in the crosshairs of national closure campaigns.