China’s 2020 Clean Energy Target: Consistency, Pathways and Policy Implications
China has proposed its 2020 clean energy target together with the climate change target of reducing CO2 intensity of the economy by 40–45% below the 2005 level. This article investigates the feasibility of these targets by testing their consistency under possible economic development scenarios. We analyse these targets from two perspectives: consistency with the overall economic growth and consistency with the international society's expectation on China's greenhouse gas (GHG) abatement responsibilities. The main findings are: under the recently announced 2020 target of gross domestic product (GDP) that is double the 2010 level, the adoption of a 15% clean energy target could result in excessive primary energy demand; and then with 40–45% GDP CO2 intensity reduction, CO2 emissions in 2020 could substantially exceed the International Energy Agency (IEA) 450 ppm scenario for China. Thus we propose a 17% clean energy target that can reconcile the domestic plan with international expectation. Our article also outlines the pathways to realise clean energy development into 2020 and proposes policy recommendations.