Push for renewable energy part of China's national climate plan

China is formulating a national plan to tackle climate change, and plans to boost its use of renewable energy to reduce its reliance on coal, state economic planner the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has said.

It will spell out specific goals and pathways that major industries and areas have to meet for China to attain its goal of peaking carbon emissions before 2030, said the NDRC's deputy secretary-general Su Wei on Thursday.

Mr Su was among a panel of Chinese officials speaking at a late-night press briefing following Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech at a US climate summit.

Mr Xi had reiterated China's goals to peak carbon emissions before 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2060. He also said that China would put a limit to its use of coal over the next five years, and begin to wind down its consumption of the high-polluting fossil fuel from 2026.

Speaking to reporters later, Mr Su said China would "continue to vigorously promote the use of non-fossil fuels and increase the share of non-fossil fuels" in its energy mix to meet targets. But he did not specify targets or limits on coal consumption or coal capacity.

Mr Su said efforts would be made to make coal-fired capacity obsolete, but that it was still needed to provide a stable source of power.

He added that renewable energies like wind and solar power were less stable than the fossil fuel.

"We don't have another choice, we still need coal-fired power to stabilise our energy mix, but we will continue to increase the share of renewable energy in our energy mix."

Coal's share of energy consumption in China fell to 56.8 per cent last year, but the country's energy regulator said on Thursday that it aims to reduce this to less than 56 per cent this year.

On climate cooperation with the United States, China's special envoy for climate change Xie Zhenhua said he had "frank, friendly, in-depth and constructive discussions", when he held talks with his US counterpart John Kerry last week in Shanghai.

"Both sides agreed that our two countries will strengthen cooperation and work with other parties to jointly address the climate crisis," he said, in his first public statements following the meeting.

Vice-Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu had added that Beijing hopes climate cooperation could help stabilise rocky ties between both countries.

"Climate change response should not be a geopolitical bargain or an excuse to establish trade barriers."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 24, 2021, with the headline 'Push for renewable energy part of China's national climate plan'. Subscribe