KEY POINTS

  • Beijing seeks to have 20% of its primary energy use generated from non-fossil fuels by the year 2030
  • In 2019, non-fossil fuels accounted for 15.3% of China’s energy generation
  • China may reduce the proportion of coal in the overall energy mix to 52% by 2025, down from 57.5%

China, the world’s biggest polluter, is considering plans to move towards using more clean energy over the next five years in an effort to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Government leaders will meet next month to develop a comprehensive energy strategy, with the goal of releasing a detailed report in March 2021.

Beijing seeks to have 20% of its primary energy use generated from non-fossil fuels by the year 2030, or maybe by as soon as 2025, Bloomberg reported. In 2019, non-fossil fuels accounted for 15.3% of China’s energy generation.

One proposal envisions reducing the proportion of coal in the overall energy mix to 52% by 2025, down from 57.5% as of the end of this year.

China has long been criticized for placing its economic growth ahead of environmental concerns.

“The target setting is in early discussions that require opinions not only from [the Chinese government’s The National Energy Administration] but also industrial regulators,” said Peng Peng, secretary-general of the China New Energy Investment and Financing Alliance.

Zhu Yue, an analyst at Industrial Securities Co., predicted that by increasing the use of renewable energy by 2025, the number of solar installations in China could more than triple from 2019 figures to 105 gigawatts a year, while wind power could nearly double to 48 gigawatts.

Research and Markets, a market research and market data firm, recently predicted that in the coming years, low-carbon industry developments will dictate the economic agenda in China as climate change becomes more severe.

“The renewable energy and [new energy vehicle] industries will see an accelerated shift in investment activities,” the research firm said. “Renewable energy and electric mobility are among the most effective tools in the fight against climate change.”

Chinese companies, the firm said, stand to benefit from expanded renewable energy programs since they can manufacture renewable energy products “way cheaper and in a mass scale due to the economies of scale, government support and experience.”

For now, China leads the world in greenhouse gas emissions.

According to data from the Global Carbon Project, China’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels totaled 9,838.8 million metric tons in 2017, a 270.3% surge from 1992.

The second biggest polluter, the U.S., was responsible for 5,269.5 million metric tons of emissions from fossil fuels that year, only a 1.8% increase from 1992.

Abishur Prakash, a geopolitical futurist at the Center for Innovating the Future, a strategy consulting firm based in Toronto, told International Business Times that for most of the last decade, China has been the largest investor in clean energy, producing the biggest quantities of everything from solar panels to electric cars.

In 2019, he noted, China invested more than $80 billion in clean energy.

“All of this shows China is committed to clean energy, in a big way,” Prakash said. “But, for China, clean energy has a lot to do with geopolitics."

For example, Prakash cited, a few years ago, China proposed a $50 trillion global electricity network based on wind turbines and solar power.

“This means, China wants to power the world, through clean energy,” he said. “Then, there’s the ongoing tech war between the U.S. and China. Already, China is a significant exporter of renewable energy technologies. And, as the U.S. races to catch up, it may refuse to export its own technology to China.”

Thus, will both nations introduce export controls? Or will they clash in foreign lands over renewable energy projects?

“Lastly, at a time when the U.S. is trying to encourage its firms to decouple from China, clean energy is resulting in the opposite,” Prakash added. Apple (AAPL), for instance, has launched a ‘China Clean Energy Fund’ to reduce its carbon footprint in the country.”