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China’s climate change watchdog said 27 of the country’s 31 regions have met the carbon emission reduction targets Beijing set in 2016. The targets include an 18-percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP growth as well as a cap on overall energy consumption at 5 billion tons of standard coal equivalent over the period of 2016 to 2020. That’s compared with 4.3 billion tons of coal equivalent for 2015.
China is among the world’s biggest polluters, with CO2 emissions per capita at 10,151 metric tons as of 2016. To compare, the United States is far behind—with emissions at just 5,312 metric tons of CO2 per capita. On the other hand, IEA data shows that the biggest polluters—per capita, at least—are in the Middle East, with Qatar emitting 35.73 tons of CO2 per capita and Saudi Arabia producing 16.4 tons per capita.
At the same time, China is also the most generous investor in renewable energy, last year pledging to pour US$361 billion into renewables by 2020. By that year, renewable energy capacity should produce about 50 percent of new energy output.
Meanwhile, Beijing has intensified its pressure on heavy polluters, closing steel mills and curbing coal consumption, aiming to replace it with gas as the less polluting f¬uel. However, a strict ban on coal use has left some provinces struggling with natural gas shortages, highlighting the challenges that China faces in its transition from major polluter to climate-change-fight champion. These shortages caused the country to ease its coal import restrictions for the time being, although the long-term plan remains to move away from coal.
Renewables adoption is also not without problems: due to lack of power transmission and distribution infrastructure, a lot of the power produced by solar and wind installations in China never reaches the end consumers, costing the industry billions of dollars in lost production.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.