China’s commitment to peak CO2 by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060 is an ambitious target. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions from China in 2019 were about 10 GtCO2, with about half this total arising from coal power plants. A pivot away from coal as China’s primary energy source is a necessary, but massive, undertaking requiring significant changes not just in the installed generating base, but also market structures, regulatory frameworks, and other institutional factors. Moreover, progress across provinces will likely be uneven given the diversity of situations that exist across the country.
This seminar will examine these issues from the perspective of the large state-owned-enterprises (SOEs) that will be called upon to play a major role in executing on China’s climate commitments over the next decades. Some specific examples will be discussed, including prospects for shifting from coal-based to renewables-based generation within SOEs. An effort will be made to highlight where these factors might cause aspects of the transition trajectory in China to diverge from paths taken by the United States.