China to accelerate coal reduction, raise share of non-fossil energy consumption to 20% – State Council

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China will accelerate the pace of coal reduction during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25) and increase the share of non-fossil energy in the primary energy consumption to about 20%, according to guidelines for the fight against pollution released by the State Council on Sunday.

There had been some improvements in China’s ecological situation since the launch of its anti-pollution campaign, but “it still has a long way to go,” the cabinet said.

By 2025, CO2 emissions per unit of GDP will drop by 18% compared with 2020, the environment will continue to improve and the total discharge of major pollutants will decrease further, according to the guidelines.

By 2035, green working and living norms will be widely adopted, carbon emissions will be stable and moderate after reaching its peak, it said..

The target is in line with an action roadmap of China’s dual carbon goals of reaching peak carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2060 released by the central government on October 26.

To achieve the targets, China will strictly control the growth of coal consumption and will strive to produce energy with non-fossil sources accounting for more than 20%. The country will also achieve ultra-low carbon emissions in steel and coal-fired power units and boilers in key areas.

The cabinet pledged to improve the national carbon emission trading market and expand its coverage in an orderly manner.

The guidelines specified that in the next five years, coal consumption in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and surrounding areas, a major industrial production hub and one of the most polluted regions in China, should be reduced by 10% from the 2016-20 period and in the Yangtze River Delta, one of the most economically developed regions in China, should decrease by 5%. 

Coal consumption in the Fenhe-Weihe river basin, a major coal production area that includes Shanxi Province, Shaanxi Province and Henan Province, should record negative growth by 2025. 

China will focus on key sectors such as energy, steel and transport in its efforts to curb carbon emissions and ban new capacity of steel, coke, cement, glass, electrolytic aluminium and coal chemical production in key areas, it said..

Meanwhile, China will continue to increase the use of natural gas, especially in heating. The proportion of electricity in total energy consumption will also be increased.

The guidelines said that China will promote the application of hydrogen fueled vehicles and clean energy vehicles in an orderly manner and the use of electric vehicles in public transport in large and medium-sized cities will be promoted. 

China aims to bring the proportion of good water quality in its coastal regions up to 79%, to basically eliminate heavy polluted weather, to effectively control soil pollution risks and to significantly enhance the capability of treating solid waste and new pollutants, the State Council said.

It also vowed to cut the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), mainly emitted by petroleum and chemical industries, and nitrogen oxides by at least 10% in 2025 from 2020 levels, to halt the rise in ground ozone pollution.

It will try to meet its ambitious environmental goals without major disruption of economic and industrial activity and people’s everyday lives, the Council said, adding that the environmental fight will also coordinate with other national actions including energy and food security campaigns.

The State Council aims to make around 93% of its contaminated farmland fit for crops by the end of 2025, up from 90% set for the end of 2020, and to reduce heavy metal waste discharged by key industries by 5% from their 2020 levels.