China’s carbon emissions set to decrease from 2024

China’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions could be facing structural decline as a result of the country’s investments in renewable energy sources.

China’s carbon emissions are set to fall in 2024, according to new analysis for Carbon Brief. 

The country – the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter – is projected to account for 45 per cent of global CO2 emissions between 2023 and 2050.

China has recently witnessed an increase in its CO2 emissions of 4.7 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2023. Scientists have interpreted this surge as a rebound from the nation’s ‘zero-Covid’ period. They have predicted that the country’s emissions will reach a peak this year, before beginning a structural decline from 2024. 

China is aiming to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. As part of this effort, the country has made significant investments in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

The country met its solar and wind installation targets for the year in September, and its sales of electric vehicles are already well ahead of the government’s 20 per cent target for 2025, according to Carbon Brief.

“These record additions are all but guaranteed to push fossil-fuel electricity generation and CO2 emissions into decline in 2024,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, author of the report.

China’s newly installed solar, wind, hydro and nuclear capacity is expected to generate an estimated 423TWh per year, equal to the total electricity consumption of France.

The most striking growth occurred in solar power installations, which increased by 210GW this year alone. China also installed 70GW of wind power this year – more than the entire power generation capacity of the UK – and it is expected to add 7GW of hydro power and 3GW of nuclear power capacity by the end of 2023.

“The rate of low-carbon energy expansion is now sufficient to not only meet but exceed the average annual increase in China’s demand for electricity overall,” Myllyvirta said.

“If this pace is maintained, or accelerated, it would mean that China’s electricity generation from fossil fuels would enter a period of structural decline – which would also be a first. Moreover, this structural decline could come about despite the new wave of coal plant permitting and construction in the country.”

Representatives from China and the US recently met in preparation for the COP28 climate talks, although the details of the discussion were not made public.

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