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China’s 2020 carbon intensity target: Consistency, implementations, and policy implications

CSS Publication Number
Full Publication Date
September 2012

China has pledged to reduce its CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 40–45% by 2020 as of 2005 level. This research examines China's 2020 carbon intensity target and its interdependence with the overarching national economic and social development goals. The results show that, with annual GDP growth rate at 7% during the 12th Five-Year-Plan (FYP) period and 6% during the 13th FYP period, the 45% CO2 intensity reduction target implies annual CO2 emissions of 8600 million tonnes by 2020, close to 8400 million tonnes, the UNFCCC 450 ppm scenario for China. However, achieving only the 40% reduction target will lead to 9380 million tonnes CO2 emissions in 2020 which largely surpass the UNFCCC 450 ppm scenario. We conclude that China's 45% CO2 intensity reduction target is not only within international expectations but also self-consistent with its overall economic and social development strategy. Then primary energy and power planning for implementing the 45% carbon intensity reduction target is proposed. Related investment requirements are also estimated. To achieve the target, China needs to restructure the economic structure for significant improvements in energy conservation.

Jiahai Yuan
Yong Hou
Research Areas
Urban Systems and Built Environment
China, CO2 intensity, Energy Planning
Publication Type
Journal Article
Digital Object Identifier
Full Citation
Yuan, J.-H.; Hou, Y.; Xu, M. (2012) “China’s 2020 carbon intensity target: consistency, implementations, and policy implications.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 16(7): 4970-4981.