China's route to carbon neutrality: perspectives and the role of renewables

In September 2020, China announced that it would aim to reach a peak in its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Over the past decade, China has remained the world’s biggest producer and consumer of energy, while its energy-related CO2 emissions had grown to account for 28% of the global total preceding the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s scale, and the need to balance economic development with emission reductions, therefore present significant challenges to its transition to net zero. The implications of China’s announcement will be profound and will require significant changes to the way it consumes energy and produces goods. Forty years is a short period in which to complete such a major transformation, and whilst encouraging foundations exist, many of the details of how this change can be delivered remain unclear. Undoubtedly, therefore, substantial analysis and coordinated effort will be needed in the coming few years to shape the path to 2060. This report draws on IRENA’s existing, technology-focused studies to offer key insights from global experiences relevant to China’s energy transition. It aims to facilitate knowledge exchange between China and the rest of the world, prompt related discussions and inform the further work needed to chart China’s path to carbon neutrality by 2060.