Energy policy of China

Energy policy of China

The energy policy in China is the sum up of different aspects of energy policy of the People's Republic of China. The country is currently the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gas according to a Dutch research agency. [cite news
title=China's emissions may surpass the US in 2007
author=Catherine Brahic
date=April 25, 2007
publisher=New Scientist
] [cite news
author=Saeed Shah|title=China to pass US greenhouse gas levels by 2010
publisher=The Independent
date= November 8, 2006
] [cite news
publisher=Reuters AlertNet
title=China fears disasters, grain cut from global warming
date=December 27, 2006
] However, China's per capita emission is still far behind developed countries. In addition, China is also the world leading renewable energy producer.

Environment and carbon emissions

On June 19, 2007, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency announced that a preliminary study indicated that China's greenhouse gas emissions for 2006 had exceeded those of the United States for the first time. The agency calculated that China’s CO2 emissions from fossil fuels increased by 9% in 2006, while those of the United States fell by 1.4%, compared to 2005. [ [ China now no. 1 in CO2 emissions; USA in second position] , "NEAA", published 2007-06-19, accessed 2007-07-20] The study used energy and cement production data from British Petroleum which they believed to be 'reasonably accurate', while warning that statistics for rapidly changing economies such as China are less reliable than data on OECD countries. [ China now no. 1 in CO2 emissions; USA in second position: more info] , "NEAA", published 2007-06-19, accessed 2007-07-20]

The Initial National Communication on Climate Change of the People's Republic of China calculated that carbon dioxide emissions in 2004 had risen to approximately 5.05 billion metric tons, with total greenhouse gas emissions reaching about 6.1 billion metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent. [ [ current greenhouse gas emissions in China] , "Xinhua News Agency", published 2007-06-04, accessed 2007-06-04]

In 2002, China ranked 2nd (after the United States) in the list of countries by carbon dioxide emissions, with emissions of 3.3 trillion metric tons, representing 14.5% of the world total. [ [ Data source Dioxyde de carbone (CO2), émissions en mille tonnes de CO2 (CDIAC)] , United Nations, accessed 2005-04-09] However, due to its huge population size, it only ranked 99 in the list of countries by carbon dioxide emissions per capita, with emissions of 3.2 metric tons per person (compared to 19.8 metric tons per person in the United States). [ [ United Nations Millennium Development Goals Indicators] , United Nations, accessed 2006-08-02] In addition, it has been estimated that around 1/3 of China's carbon emissions in 2005 were due to manufacturing exported goods. [ [ 33% of China's Carbon Footprint Blamed on Exports] published 2008-07-29, accessed 2008-07-29]

Energy use and carbon emissions by sector

In the industrial sector, six industries — electricity generation, steel, non-ferrous metals, construction materials, oil processing and chemicals — account for nearly 70% of energy use.

In the construction materials sector, China produced about 44% of the world's cement in 2006. Cement production produces more carbon emissions than any other industrial process, accounting for around 4% of global carbon emissions.

National Action Plan on Climate Change

Although China has been taking action on climate change for some years, with the publication on Monday 4 June 2007 of China's first National Action Plan on Climate Change, China became the first developing country to publish a national strategy addressing global warming. [ China issues first national plan to address climate change] , "Xinhua News Agency", published 2007-06-04, accessed 2007-06-04] The plan does not include targets for carbon dioxide emission reductions, but it has been estimated that, if fully implemented, China's annual emissions of greenhouse gases would be reduced by 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2010, although other commentators put the figure at 0.950 billion metric tons. [ China to Cut Greenhouse Emissions by 950 Million Tons] "", published 2007-06-02, accessed 2007-06-04]

Publication was officially announced during a meeting of the State Council, which called on governments and all sectors of the economy to implement the plan, and for the launch of a public environmental protection awareness campaign. [ [ National Action Plan on Climate Change] , "Xinhua News Agency", published 2007-06-02, accessed 2007-06-04]

The National Action Plan includes increasing the proportion of electricity generation from renewable energy sources and from nuclear power, increasing the efficiency of coal-fired power stations [ China unveils climate change plan] , "BBC", published 2007-06-04, accessed 2007-06-04] the use of cogeneration, and the development of coal-bed and coal-mine methane.

In addition, the one child policy in China has successfully slowed down the population increase, preventing 300 million births, which is equal to 1.3 billion tons of CO2 emission based on average world per capita emissions of 4.2 tons at 2005 level. [ [ China says one-child policy helps protect climate] , published 2007-08-30 accessed 2007-08-30]

Electricity generation

In 2006, China's total annual electricity output was 2.83 trillion kWh, and the annual consumption was 2.82 trillion kWh (second largest in the world). The total installed electricity generating capacity was 622 GW in 2006, and hit 710 GW by the end of 2007. [ China installed capacity hits 710 GW in 2007 [] ]


China currently generates around two thirds of its electricity from coal-fired power stations. It is progressing with the construction of 562 new coal-fired plants over the next few years. [cite news
title=New coal plants bury 'Kyoto'
author=Mark Clayton
date=December 23, 2004
publisher=The Christian Science Monitor
] In June 2007 it was reported that an average of two new plants were being opened every week. [ China building more power plants] , "BBC", published 2007-06-19, accessed 2007-06-20]


China is the world leading renewable energy producer, with an installed capacity of 152 GW. [ China 'leads the world' in renewable energy] ] China has been invested heavily in renewable energy field in recent year. In 2007, the total renewable energy investment is $12 billion USD, second only to Germany, and expected to be the world No 1 by 2009. [ [ China's 'rapid renewables surge'] ] Approximately 7% of China's energy was from renewable sources in 2006, a figure targeted to rise to 10% by 2010 and to 16% by 2020. The major renewable energy source in China is hydropower. Total hydro-electric output in China in 2006 was 416 billion kWh. China is already the country with the most hydro-electric capacity in the world, and the Three Gorges Dam is projected to be the largest hydro-electric power station in the world with a total capacity of 22.5 GW.

Nuclear power

In 2006, China had 9 nuclear power units with a total electric capacity of 6.99 GW and total output of 54.8 billion kWh, accounting for only 1.9% country's total electricity output. China plans to increase its nuclear power capacity and nuclear power percentage in the total electricity output to 40 GW and 4% respectively by 2020. [ [ China's nuclear plants generate 54.8 TWh of electricity in 2006] , published 2007-04-23, accessed 2007-06-22]

Rural electrification

Following the completion of the similar Township Electrification Program in 2005, the Village Electrification Program plans to provide renewable electricity to 3.5 million households in 10,000 villages by 2010. This is to be followed by full rural electrification using renewable energy by 2015. [ Renewables Global Status Report 2006 Update] , "REN21", published 2006, accessed 2007-05-16]

Fossil fuels


China is the world top coal producer and the third in coal reserve. It is approximately self suffient in coal with a production of 2.38 billion ton and a consumption of 2.37 billion ton in 2006. [ [ China's coal imports hit new high] ] China used to be a major coal exporter but its export is decreasing and it may become a net importer soon.


Although China is still a major crude oil producer, it became an oil importer in the 1990s. In 2002, annual crude petroleum production was 1,298,000,000 barrels, and annual crude petroleum consumption was 1,670,000,000 barrels. In 2006, it imported 145 million tons of crude oil, accounting for 47% of its total oil consumption. [ [ China's oil imports set new record] ] [ [ China's 2006 crude oil imports 145 mln tons, up 14.5 pct - customs] ] Three state-owned oil companies -- Sinopec, CNPC, and CNOOC, dominate its domestic market.

China announced on 20th June 2008 plans to raise petrol, diesel and aviation kerosene prices. This decision appears to reflect a need to reduce the unsustainably high level of subsidies these fuels attract, given the global trend in the price of oil. [ [ Rise in global oil price dents China's petrol subsidy policy] ]

Renewable energy sources

Although a majority of the renewable energy in China is from hydropower, other renewable energy sources are in rapid development. In 2006, a total of 10 billion US dollars had been invested in renewable energy, second only to Germany. [ China poised to lead renewables race] ]


In 2006, 16 million tons of corn have been used to produce ethanol, [ [ China corn for ethanol 16 mln tons in 2006] , published 2007-04-09, accessed 2007-08-27] however, because food prices in China rose sharply during 2007, China has decided to ban the further expansion of the corn ethanol industry.

On February 7, a spokesman for the State Forestry Administration announced that 130,000 square kilometres (50,000 square miles) would be devoted to biofuel production. Under an agreement reached with PetroChina in January 2007, 400 square kilometres of "Jatropha curcas" is to be grown for biodiesel production. Local governments are also developing oilseed projects. There are concerns that such developments may lead to serious environmental damage. [ [ Chinese Biofuels Expansion Threatens Ecological Disaster] , "Worldwatch Institute", published 2007-03-13, accessed 2007-06-28]

olar power

China has become the world largest consumer of solar energy. [ [ Energy: China becomes the world's largest solar power market] published 2007-08-27, accessed 2007-08-27] It is the largest producer of solar water heaters, accounting for 60 percent of the world’s solar hot water heating capacity, and the total installed heaters is estimated at 30 million households. [ [ Kunming Heats Up as China’s “Solar City”] published 2007-06-15, accessed 2007-08-27] Solar PV production in China is also in rapid development. In 2007, 0.82 GW Solar PV is produced, second only to Japan.

Wind power

China's total wind power capacity is at 2.67 gigawatts (GW) in 2006. China government had planned 5 GW of wind generation capacity by 2010, and 30 GW capacity by 2020. [ [ Wind power blows through China] published 2007-02-26, accessed 2007-08-27] But the 5 GW goal was met as early as in 2007. By the end of 2007, China's 202 wind projects had a total capacity of 6.05 GW, with an annual growth rate of 95%. [ [ China posts 95% growth in wind power generation] ] [ [ Energy in China: 'We call it the Three Gorges of the sky.'] ] The 2010 goal was then revised to 10 GW. However, experts estimated that China's wind capacity may reach the 20GW landmark by 2010, [ [ U.S., China lead way in tapping wind power] ] which is called the "Wind Three Gorges".

Energy conservation

General Work Plan for Energy Conservation

The General Work Plan for Energy Conservation and Pollutant Discharge Reduction aims to cut energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (energy intensity) by 20% over the course of the 11th five-year plan which ends in 2010, as well as cutting the discharge of major pollutants by 10%. The plan was issued in 2007 after the 4% reduction in energy intensity targeted for 2006 was missed, and all companies and local and national government have been asked to submit detailed plans for compliance before June 30, 2007. [ [ Chinese government urges efforts for energy saving] , "Xinhua News Agency", published 2007-06-03, accessed 2007-06-04] In 2006 the reduction achieved was 1.23%. [ China to stick to strict environment-protection plans] , "Xinhua News Agency", published 2007-06-03, accessed 2007-06-04]

Implementation will involve a variety of measures, including increased use of renewable energy, revised pricing for primary energy sources and electricity, export restrictions on energy intensive and highly polluting products, and tax incentives for pollution-reduction projects. Central and local government will switch to low-energy lighting, and will be compelled to purchase only the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly electrical products.

Officials have been warned that violating energy conservation and environmental protection laws will lead to criminal proceedings, while failure to achieve targets will be taken into account in the performance assessment of officials and business leaders. [ China says energy efficiency key to performance of government & company leaders] , "Xinhua News Agency", published 2007-06-03, accessed 2007-06-04]

pace heating and air conditioning

A State Council circular issued on June 3, 2007, restricts the temperature of air conditioning in public buildings to no lower than 26oC in summer (78.8oF), and no higher than 20oC (68oF) in winter. The sale of inefficient air conditioning units has also been outlawed. [ [ State Council: no lower than 26 degrees in air-conditioned rooms] , "Xinhua News Agency", published 2007-06-03, accessed 2007-06-04]

Public opinion

The Chinese results from the 1st Annual World Environment Review, published on June 5, 2007 revealed that, in a sample of 1024 people (50% male): [ [ First Annual World Environment Review Poll Reveals Countries Want Governments to Take Strong Action on Climate Change] , "Global Market Insite", published 2007-06-05, accessed 2007-05-09]

*88% are concerned about climate change.
*97% think their Government should do more to tackle global warming.
*63% think that China is too dependent on fossil fuels.
*56% think that China is too reliant on foreign oil.
*91% think that a minimum 25% of electricity should be generated from renewable energy sources.
*61% are concerned about nuclear power.
*79% are concerned about carbon dioxide emissions from developing countries.
*62% think it appropriate for developed countries to demand restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions from developing countries.

Another survey published in Aug 2007 by China Youth Daily and British Council sampled 2,500 Chinese with an average age of 30.1. It showed that 80% young Chinese concerned about global warming, however, ironically, 85% of them also would buy a car if they could afford one. [ [ China's young favor sustainable consumption, but want cars first] published 08-20-2007, accessed 08-28-07]

ee also

*Debate over China's economic responsibilities for climate change mitigation
*Energy policy
*Energy security
*Environment of China
*Low-carbon economy
*Peak oil


External links

* [ National Action Plan on Climate Change] —National Development and Reform Commission
* [ China Clean Energy Program] —An initiative of the Natural Resources Defense Council, in close partnership with China's South North Institute on Sustainable Development.
* [ Cleaner Production in China] —Current and comprehensive information source on China's campaign to reduce pollution.
* [ China Energy: A Guide for the Perplexed]
* [ A Sustainable China Energy Outlook] -A report produced by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC)

News stories

*February 18, 2008, "WWF": [ Shanghai and Boading join new Low Carbon City Initiative] .

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