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Energy related carbon emissions in China 2018-2050

Under the Paris agreement, world leaders agreed to stop the global temperature in this century from rising more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times. Some leaders even demanded that the temperature should not rise any more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, current policies regarding the transition to renewable energies in China do not seem sufficient for this purpose. The forecasted carbon emissions related to energy in the country is expected to be around 3.7 gigatonnes by 2050. This would amount to one third of the emissions levels of 2018, but still a whole gigatonne of carbon emissions short of the Paris agreement target.

 Energy sources

With economic development in China having grown for decades, so has its primary energy consumption, soaring from barely above 42 million exajoules in 2000 to over 141 million exajoules as of 2019. Despite efforts to adopt a higher share of renewable energy for years, coal continues to be the main source of energy in China, accounting for over half of all primary energy consumption in the country currently.

 Development of renewable energy 

In line with global trends, China also started stepping up its game regarding clean energy. From 2008 to 2018, the production of renewable energy in the country has increased threefold to over 1,800 terawatt hours. Among the various types of renewable energy, solar power is the fastest growing type in China.

Carbon dioxide emissions related to energy in China in 2018 and a forecast for 2035 and 2050 based on two scenarios

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Source

Release date

March 2020

Region

China

Survey time period

2018

Supplementary notes

*The Stated Policy scenario
The Stated Policy scenario is based on the current and stated policies regarding the energy transition, climate policy and environmental policy. Compared to the Below 2 °C scenario, the main differences in the assumptions and target setting are:
 More ambitious targets for CO2 reduction in the Below 2 °C scenario to ensure compliance with a below 2 °C increase in global temperature
 Targets for use of natural gas until 2030 in the Stated Policy scenario, while the Below 2 °C scenario has no targets after 2020.
 Increased emphasis on electrification of end use consumption. As a result, the Stated Policy scenario has a lower deployment of renewable energy after 2020, and a higher consumption of coal, oil and natural gas than the Below 2 °C scenario as shown in Figure 14, and the electrification of end‐use consumption is also less than the Below 2 °C scenario.

** Below two degree Celsius scenario with the following boundaries and assumptions:

Scenario boundaries
The boundaries for the long‐term energy and economic development are constraints to the deployment of various energy technologies:
 Renewable energy resources are constrained at provincial level, and wind and solar are divided into categories of costs, type and quality.
 Hydro power plants are limited to deployment of 532 GW, based on existing capacity and environmentally sustainable build out opportunities.
 Nuclear capacity is limited to 120 GW along coastal regions.
 CCS is not taken into account as a technology option, since no clear data on technology costs and performance is available.


Scenario assumptions
The scenarios are based on the following main assumptions:
 Both scenarios assume full and vigorous implementation of the current and stated policies for the energy sector as expressed in the 13th Five‐Year Plan and the 19th Party Congress. This includes a power market reform and a national CO2 emission trading scheme.
 Economic development objectives must increase GDP by a factor of 4 in real terms, from RMB 82 trillion in 2017 to RMB 324 trillion by 2050.
 Both scenarios actively support the new economic development by creating markets for strategic emerging industries like electric vehicles, data centers and IT services with high consumption of electricity and clean energy technologies.  Population is expected to be on today’s level at 1.38 billion in 2050.
 The short‐term goals in the 13th Five‐Year Plan on energy will be fulfilled in 2020, as well as the targets in the Three‐Year Action Blue Sky Protection Plan, the 13th FYP for Environment Protection and the North China Clean heating plan.  Energy efficiency vigorously reduces final energy consumption, e.g. in the Below 2 °C scenario is thereby 56% of a no improvement situation by 2050 and slightly higher in the Stated Policies scenario.
 Strong electrification of the final energy consumption, aiming at around 60% electricity in the end‐use sectors.
 Focus on security of supply including strong efforts in reducing dependency of imported oil and natural gas.
 China achieves the goal of 10% of natural gas in total primary energy consumption by 2020 and in the Stated Policies scenario, natural gas consumption will increase to 15%. The Below 2 °C scenario does not require the share to increase after 2020.
 The 50% non‐fossil electricity generation target of the Energy Consumption Revolution strategy is attained, and in practice exceeded in the scenarios.
 The Stated Policies scenario has the carbon intensity reduction target of 40‐45% by 2020 and 60‐65% by 2030, though this is not binding. CO2 prices in the in the power sector rise linearly from RMB 50/tonne in 2020 to RMB 100/tonne in 2040.
 The Below 2°C scenario, the accumulated energy sector emissions from 2017‐2050 is kept below 230 billion tons. This is based on several different simulations from the IPCC AR5 database with a greater than 66% chance of staying Below 2°C.
 Technology costs are assumed to have declining installation and operational costs per MW as well as quality improvements of RE technologies. Grid parity is achieved for most wind and solar installations in the 2020s on LCOE basis, and most mainstream RE is significantly less costly than fossil generation by 2050.  Coal and natural gas prices follow the indexed development of the IEA World Energy Outlook 2017 New Policies scenario in the Stated Policies scenario, and the IEA’s Sustainable Development scenario in the Below 2 °C.
 Coal is constrained to 1 billion tons by 2050.


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