China's Coalwende: Discussion with Greenpeace China Campaigner Li Shuo
Is China hooked on coal? Data are showing a possible end to China's coal boom of latter years. Li Shuo, Climate & Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace China explained the background for this encouraging development, and exchanged views with the Climate & Energy Team at Ecologic Institute on 16 April 2014. China's new 'Coalwende' may not yet be as dynamic as the German Energiewende, but even a gradual shift in China will have global implications.
Li Shuo shared the findings of Greenpeace China’s recent publication "The End of China’s Coal Boom – 6 Facts You Should Know" and provided his views on policy developments in China. In particular, Li Shuo focused on China’s Air Pollution Action Plan released by China’s State Council in September and efforts aimed to limit health and environmental impacts linked to the use of coal.
So far 12 provinces in China have committed to coal control measures, including six that have set absolute coal reduction targets. Another 17 provinces have announced intentions to cap or reduce coal use. Moreover, China’s annual growth in coal consumption has slowed to 2.8%, down from 19.2% in 2003.
Greenpeace China is closely following these efforts in an effort to limit air, water and climate impacts associated with burning coal as a fuel source. They estimate that a major slowdown in coal consumption in China could almost put China’s emissions in line with a 2 degrees trajectory, and compares to or exceeds efforts of both the EU and the United States.
Over the last decade China has become the world’s largest energy consumer and the world’s leading emitter of greenhouse gases. China’s coal consumption is one significant reason for this development. Its coal use and emissions have been growing on average at 9% a year from 2000-2010 and coal accounted for 65% of China’s energy consumption in 2013. Among other things, this increased coal consumption has major implications for climate change, China’s energy dependence, and the health of China’s population due to exceptionally high levels of air pollution.
A discussion with Ecologic Institute’s R. Andreas Kraemer, Benjamin Görlach and Matthias Duwe centered on the possible effects of such regulations on the future functioning of China’s pilot emissions trading schemes, recalling the experience from the EU ETS and other trading schemes. If the coal phase-out policies are effectively implemented, this would result in a significant decline in carbon emissions. Such a change would need to be reflected in the ETS cap – or else would lead to a significant allowance surplus in the market.
Additional discussion centered on the state of the German Energy Transition and the direction of EU Climate & Energy policy moving forward, including the future role of urban development, mobility, decentralized energy systems, taxation and subsidy reform. The possibility of introducing new sectoral targets under the EU ETS as a corrective measure was also briefly discussed.
Li Shuo visited Ecologic Institute on a trip to Berlin for the plenary meeting of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) during the final drafting stage of its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The IPCC meeting took place from 7-11 April 2014.
Li Shuo was a participant in an ICAP Training Course on Emissions Trading held in Beijing in 2011 led by Ecologic’s Michael Mehling, Benjamin Görlach and Miriam Schröder.