Concerns over energy security and domestic air quality have led the Chinese government to reduce the country’s overwhelming dependence on fossil fuels and to shift to a more energy- and resource-efficient development trajectory. Considering the international climate negotiations, this goal now has added emphasis on carbon intensity. The 11th Five-year Plan (FYP) set explicit targets for energy efficiency and pollutant emissions and this has led to a number of ambitious implementing measures. The government recently also set a carbon intensity target for 2020: reducing it by 40–45 per cent compared with the 2005 carbon emissions:GDP ratio. Despite the current global economic slowdown, and partly due to the strong fiscal stimulus in 2009, the growth of the Chinese economy and its resource demands are so swift that they are overwhelming many of these efforts, most notably in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the leading greenhouse gas (GHG).
This research is supported by the Energy Foundation, Harvard China Fund, National Science Foundation of China (Project Code: 70803026 and 71173130) and Tsinghua University Initiative Scientific Research Program. The research is part of a larger study developed and conducted under the China Project, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, in partnership with Tsinghua University researchers. This paper includes material from Yu Lei, Chris Nielsen, Yuxuan Wang and Yu Zhao, and we also thank Nielsen for comments on this paper.