Getting to Net Zero- China Report : Pathways Toward Carbon Neutrality A Review of Recent Studies on Mid-Century Emissions Transition Scenarios For China

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This report, led by authors from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s China Energy Group in partnership with California-China Climate Institute, reviews, compares and analyzes ten different carbon neutrality pathways and while there’s significant variation in the underlying assumptions in these studies, several overarching trends emerge. Energy consumption in China, for example, is projected to peak by 2025 in most 1.5°C compatible scenarios and by 2030 in most 2°C compatible scenarios, with consumption flat to 30 percent below today’s level by 2050. Meanwhile, across all studies carbon dioxide emissions are expected to peak between 2020 and 2030 (by 2020 in nearly all 1.5°C scenarios and by 2030 for 2°C scenarios). Remaining carbon dioxide emissions in 2050 depend, in part, on assumptions about emission targets and deployment of negative emission technologies.


The report also outlines a number of key decarbonization strategies in China – many of which overlap with the actions identified in the U.S. report – including: improving energy efficiency and demand reduction; accelerating electrification and power sector decarbonization; scaling up deployment of alternative clean fuels; and pursuing terrestrial and geological sequestration.


While the targets and actions needed to decarbonize are relatively clear, China, like the U.S., faces myriad challenges to make this shift a reality. For example, China’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions grew 4-fold in the 30 years between 1990 and 2020. Yet, all future scenarios envision a rapid peaking in the next 10-20 years while China’s economy continues to grow – with GDP expected to increase 3.5-4-fold by 2050. There is also significant uncertainty around the pace, scale, and cost of new technology and alternative fuel RD&D to help address hard-to-decarbonize sectors and processes, particularly in transport and industry; the role of lifestyle and behavior changes in contributing to demand reduction and future trends in non-energy carbon dioxide emissions, non-carbon dioxide emissions, and sequestration. Given these issues, the report concludes that both the U.S. and China will benefit from further coordination and collaboration on carbon neutrality.

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