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China Details Plans for Achieving Carbon-Peaking and Carbon-Neutrality Goals


In October 2021, China issued and publicly released two policy documents detailing its plans for achieving its carbon-peaking and carbon-neutrality goals: (1) the Working Guidance for Carbon Dioxide Peaking and Carbon Neutrality in Full and Faithful Implementation of the New Development Philosophy; and (2) the Action Plan for Achieving Carbon Peaking Before 2030.

General information and details relevant to the mitigation of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including methane, are provided below for each of these documents. Note that SLCPs are covered under the broader category of “non-CO2greenhouse gases” (GHGs) in the context of policy discussions in China.

1. The Working Guidance for Carbon Dioxide Peaking and Carbon Neutrality in Full and Faithful Implementation of the New Development Philosophy (hereinafter referred to as “the Guidance”).*

The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council issued the Guidance on 22 September 2021. However, the Guidance was publicly released in October 2021.

The Guidance constitutes an overarching policy document that describes the working principles, key targets, and policy instructions for China’s low-carbon and green transition in key industries, energy types, the transportation sector, and urban development. The Guidance also supports the protection of carbon sinks and the promotion of related technology research and development.

Further, the Guidance incorporates plans to improve government supervisory and support mechanisms related to China’s low-carbon and green transition. These plans include promulgating and amending relevant laws, regulations, and standards, advancing monitoring systems, promoting green finance, enhancing relevant tax and procurement policies, and expanding the carbon-trading system. The Guidance provides that, under the oversight and coordination of the national government, qualified localities, key industries, and key enterprises may take the lead to achieve carbon-peaking and carbon-neutrality goals.

On the subject of non-CO2 GHGs, the Guidance provides that “[China will] strengthen the control of non-CO2 GHGs such as methane.” This is consistent with prior statements by President Xi Jinping and Minister Xie Zhenhua, as well as provisions in China’s 14th Five-Year Plan.

For the energy sector, the Guidance sets the key target of increasing non-fossil energy consumption to more than 80% by 2060. Per the Guidance, actions to strictly control increases in coal-consumption from 2021-2025, and gradually reduce coal consumption over 2026-2030, will support this energy transition target. Additionally, the Guidance provides that China will scale up the development and utilization of coal-bed methane and reach the peak and plateau stage for oil/petroleum consumption during 2026-2030.

Furthermore, the Guidance touches on China’s export policies, indicating that China will strictly manage the export of high energy-consuming and high-emission products. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) remains the focus for China’s diplomatic policies including promoting the green development of the BRI and strengthening collaboration with BRI countries on, among other things, green technology, green equipment, green services, and green-infrastructure construction.

The Guidance also indicates, as next steps, that China will issue carbon-peaking action plans for key sectors, including the energy, petrochemical, transportation, and construction sectors. Additionally, the Guidance notes that China will also issue policies to control production capacities of key industries in the coal-power, petrochemical, and coal-chemical sectors.

2. The Action Plan for Achieving Carbon Peaking Before 2030 (hereinafter referred to as “the Plan”).

The State Council issued the Plan on 24 October 2021. Although the Plan focuses on CO2 emissions reduction, certain of the targets provided in the Plan have significant implications for China’s mitigation of non-CO2 GHGs.

Key targets in the Plan relevant to non-CO2 GHGs include:

Energy and petrochemical sectors:

  • The percentage of non-fossil energy consumption shall be increased to around 20% by 2025 and around 25% by 2030.
  • China’s domestic primary processing capacity for crude oil shall be controlled to within one billion tons, and the capacity utilization rate of major products shall be increased to more than 80% by 2025.

Transportation sector:

  • New transportation powered by new energy and clean energy shall reach about 40% [of total new transportation] per year in 2030.
  • Petroleum consumption by transportation on land shall aim for peaking by 2030.
  • Green transportation deployment in cities with populations of one million or more shall be no less than 70% by 2030.

Construction sector:

  • All new urban buildings shall meet China’s green building standards by 2025.
  • Urban building application of renewable energy shall reach 8% [of total building energy consumption] by 2025.
  • Photovoltaic panel coverage on the roofs of new public-institution buildings and new factory plants shall strive to reach 50% by 2025.
Waste sector:
  • Reutilization of bulk solid waste shall reach about 4 billion tons per year by 2025 and about 4.5 billion tons per year by 2030. Such bulk solid waste includes waste from coal mines, refineries, industrial processes, and construction, as well as crop straw.
  • [Rates for] reutilization of urban household waste shall be increased to around 60% by 2025 and 65% by 2030.

Agriculture sector:

  • No quantitative targets are provided. The Plan nonetheless mentions the need to control the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, implement plans to reduce and replace chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and strengthen the comprehensive use of crop straw and the reutilization of livestock manure.

* For awareness, note that China has posted an English translation of the Guidance, although the translation appears to be a rough draft. See https://en.ndrc.gov.cn/policies/202110/t20211024_1300725.html.