As a result of soaring energy demand from a staggering pace of economic expansion and the related growth of energy-intensive industry, China overtook the United States to become the world's largest contributor to CO2 emissions in 2007. At the same time, China has taken serious actions to reduce its energy and carbon intensity by setting both a short-term energy intensity reduction goal for 2006 to 2010 as well as a long-term carbon intensity reduction goal for 2020. This study presents a China Energy Outlook through 2050 that assesses the role of energy efficiency policies in transitioning China to a lower emission trajectory and meeting its intensity reduction goals.
Over the past few years, LBNL has established and significantly enhanced its China End-Use Energy Model which is based on the diffusion of end-use technologies and other physical drivers of energy demand. This model presents an important new approach for helping understand China's complex and dynamic drivers of energy consumption and implications of energy efficiency policies through scenario analysis. A baseline ("Continued Improvement Scenario") and an alternative energy efficiency scenario ("Accelerated Improvement Scenario") have been developed to assess the impact of actions already taken by the Chinese government as well as planned and potential actions, and to evaluate the potential for China to control energy demand growth and mitigate emissions. In addition, this analysis also evaluated China's long-term domestic energy supply in order to gauge the potential challenge China may face in meeting long-term demand for energy.
It is a common belief that China's CO2 emissions will continue to grow throughout this century and will dominate global emissions. The findings from this research suggest that this will not necessarily be the case because saturation in ownership of appliances, construction of residential and commercial floor area, roadways, railways, fertilizer use, and urbanization will peak around 2030 with slowing population growth. The baseline and alternative scenarios also demonstrate that China's 2020 goals can be met and underscore the significant role that policy-driven energy efficiency improvements will play in carbon mitigation along with a decarbonized power supply through greater renewable and non-fossil fuel generation.