China Emission Reduction Policy

2015-2020 Action Plan for the Efficient Use of Coal and 2016-2020 13th Five-Year Plan

In February 2015, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the Finance Ministry released the 2015 – 2020 action plan for the efficient use of coal: aiming to decrease coal use by 160 million tonnes in the determined period. China’s federal 13th Five Year Plan (2016 – 2020) revealed further coal-related targets, including:

–    Ban on new coal-fired power plants until 2018
–    An annual cut in annual production capacity of coal of 700 Mtce; or, 14% of total production capacity
–    Closure of coal-fired power plants with the aim of reducing air pollution in urban areas.

In Beijing, the last coal-fired power plant has been shut down in 2016 and replaced with a gas power plant.

These policies have already begun to produce effects. The latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBS) has shown that the production of raw coal is down 10% from 2015. In addition, hydropower generation has increased by 12%, nuclear by 24%, and wind power by 26%, between January and August 2016, in comparison to generation in the same period of 2015.
Projections further suggest that overall coal consumption in China has already peaked in 2013, as statistics show that it dropped by 2.9% in 2014, and a further 3.6% in 2015. Studies suggest that this may be due to two major factors:

1.    A decline in economic growth
2.    A continued policy to lower coal use in order to reduce air pollution and national greenhouse gas emissions

A continued reduction of coal consumption of 160 million tonnes per year until 2020 suggests that the range of emissions will be below the assumed 2013 peak of coal consumption. Paired with China’s first target cap on total energy consumption at 5 billion tonnes of coal equivalent, as well as targets on air quality progress in cities, China’s set policies will continue to have a major impact on the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Overall, China will meet its 2020 pledge and its NDC targets, but it is predicted that it will remain substantially above current emission levels (22-24% above 2010 levels by 2020 and 33% – 40% by 2030). Although China continues to implement increasingly stringent policies to curb carbon dioxide emissions, particularly from coal, emission reductions from other greenhouse gases seem to be neglected.

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