ANALYSTS' VIEW: China Announces CO2 Intensity Target For 2020
BEIJING - China has unveiled its first firm target to curb greenhouse gas emissions, laying out a "carbon intensity goal" on Thursday that Premier Wen Jiabao will take to key climate talks in Copenhagen next month.
Following are analysts' comments on the impact of the target on the Copenhagen talks and how tough it will be to achieve.
FRANK JOTZO, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY CLIMATE CHANGE INSTITUTE
"China's announcement means that China's absolute emissions would still keep growing, just not quite as fast. From 2005 to 2020, China's GDP will triple if an 8 percent annual growth rate is achieved. That means under the target, emissions will 'only' double. But under a business-as-usual scenario, China's emissions might increase over two and a half times."
"A 40-45 percent reduction in carbon intensity is a little less than what China was expected to announce."
"The Chinese announcement could be broadly compatible with other countries' proposed level of effort, like the U.S. 17 percent reduction target, taking into account China's development status."
"But all the targets on the table at Copenhagen fall far short of the reductions that the science is calling for. To reduce the risk of dangerous climate change, they would have to be followed up with far, far stricter targets immediately after 2020."
NAVROZ KERSI DUBASH, SENIOR FELLOW AT THE NEW DELHI-BASED Center FOR POLICY RESEARCH
"Given that China has such high levels of energy intensity this kind of cut is necessary and welcome."
"But ultimately intensity targets can take you so far and countries should start talking about absolute numbers. But this is a fair downpayment on China's part."
TREVOR SIKORSKI, HEAD OF CARBON RESEARCH AT BARCLAYS CAPITAL
"China is targeting the emissions intensity of their growth and they want to bring that down. It means that as China continues to grow, emissions will increase but they will increase at a slower rate than they otherwise would have done."
"It's keeping a lid on emissions without formally capping them at any given level. It won't reduce emissions in absolute terms, those emissions will still probably grow in the next decade."
"Post-2020 Chinese emissions will be higher per capita and the pressure will be on them to take a biding cap will be much greater than it is now."
"Now people are just looking for China to make the right gesture. They have made a fairly good gesture and we should expect much more from them."
KNUT ALFSEN, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, OSLO
"This is very good news. From a previous stance where they said climate change was the rich world's problem ... they have now shifted position to recognize that they have to solve it together."
JOHN HAY, SPOKESMAN, U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE SECRETARIAT
"This is a huge morale booster" -- referring to both the Chinese target and the planned visit by U.S. President Barack Obama.
KIM CARSTENSEN, LEADER OF WWF INTERNATIONAL'S GLOBAL CLIMATE INITIATIVE
"It is extremely welcome news that China is now putting specific figures on its reductions of carbon intensity toward 2020."
"Given the size of China's economy, this decoupling of economic growth from emissions is one of the most important factors that will determine whether the world can get on course to keep temperature rises below 2 degrees Celsius."
"We are talking about several gigatons of avoided emissions with this new announcement by China. We believe China can achieve at least a 45 percent reduction in its carbon intensity."
CHRIS RACZKOWSKI, CHINA MANAGING DIRECTOR FOR ECOFYS, A RENEWABLE ENERGY CONSULTING COMPANY
"It is good news. We are starting to see some movement from these big countries -- China and the United States. This is the type of noise we expected from China. Not hard numbers in terms of reaching a certain amount of tonnes, but intensity targets."
"I think it will take a lot of great effort. It is also well known that in terms of energy efficiency it has a long way to go to catch up with Europe and Japan, but any time you make this sort of change, it is still difficult for a country. It is definitely a strong sign that they are getting serious about their contribution to world greenhouse gases."
"I think the question that will immediately follow this is the favorite three initials that the United States keeps talking about -- M, R, and V -- and how China is going to measure, report and verify these cuts."
ALLAN ZHANG, HEAD OF CARBON MARKETS IN BEIJING WITH PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS
"I would say it is a very aggressive target. Of course, they have set a target date for reducing energy consumption by 20 percent by 2020, but they failed in the first few years and I'm not sure whether they can catch up in the years to come.
"This 40-45 percent reduction (in carbon intensity) is quite big. I am sure they will have to come up with subsequent action plans to implement it.
"This will be the official position of China and it will be quite something. I am sure it will put more pressure on the U.S. side. It is definitely a significant move, but to achieve it will be quite a challenge."
DAI YANDE, DEPUTY HEAD OF THE ENERGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE UNDER THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND REFORM COMMISSION
"It's an arduous task for China, as everybody knows energy intensity tends to rise during industrialization and thus it's difficult to cut down emissions."
"China is still in the period of heavy industrialization. It has to rely on developing renewable energy sources to cut emissions, and that is still very costly."
"This move is a demonstration of China's attitude and resolve to tackle the issue."
PAN JIAHUA, CLIMATE POLICY EXPERT AT CHINESE ACADEMY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES
"I think this goal will be difficult for China to achieve. Already in the (current) Eleventh Five-year Plan we've made big efforts to cut energy intensity by 20 percent, and many of the easier steps have already been made. The next phase will be even more difficult, so I don't see that achieving this carbon intensity goal will be an easy one. It will be extremely difficult."
"Personally I think this number is a bit high for China's present capabilities ... Achieving it will require shifting more from old power plants, and also financial subsidies -- for example, for power-saving appliances, clean vehicles, and so on. Getting all done that won't be easy."
(Reporting by Beijing bureau, Krittivas Mukherjee in New Delhi, Nina Chestney and Gerard Wynn in London, Alister Doyle in Oslo and David Fogarty in Singapore)
(Editing by David Fogarty and Paul Tait)