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Emissions peak hard to predict, expert says

By Wu Wencong  (China Daily)

13:26, May 27, 2013

Many variables will factor into when China's greenhouse gas emissions will peak, and the issue requires more in-depth analysis, Zhou Dadi, vice-chairman of the National Energy Advisory Committee, told China Daily on Friday.

Recent media reports said China's greenhouse gas emissions might peak before 2025.

The Chinese government has always attached great importance to climate change issues and has actively responded, said Zhou, who is also a professor at the Energy Research Institute of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Many discussions have been held in China among experts and academics on the peaking issue, and one cannot rush to a conclusion on the time frame, Zhou said. The issue has so many uncertainties that experts cannot agree on a prediction, he said.

But one message is very clear: The peaking issue is on the agenda of China's sustainable development. To peak as soon as possible is not only in the interest of global climate, but also will serve as an incentive to restructure the country's economy and transform economic development.

"To achieve goal of limiting the temperature rise to two degrees, developed economies should undertake more ambitious emission reduction targets and provide developing countries with adequate financial and technology support so as to enable the latter to take climate response measures," Zhou said.

"On the other hand, developing economies need to change their development patterns as soon as possible to achieve a low-carbon sustainable development."

China has made strong commitments to act on emissions, including lowering emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 50 percent by 2020 compared with the 2005 level; meeting 15 percent of its primary energy consumption through non-fossil fuels by 2020; and increasing forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from the 2005 level.

He said China's industrialization is not yet complete and urbanization is still taking place. Though recent years have seen a considerable drop in energy consumption growth, that cannot offset the huge energy consumption during the past decade.

Unfortunately, China's energy mix is overwhelmingly dominated by coal, which cannot be changed in a short period. Whether China can offer a time frame for its emission cap is not a fortunetelling exercise, Zhou said. The move requires genuine research and scientific analysis and assessment before moving on to comprehensive consultation and the government decision-making process, Zhou said.

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