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China is struggling to achieve its goals

A man uses his smartphone to scan the QR code to charge an electric vehicle at a charging station in Chengdu, China's Sichuan province, China, Oct 14, 2022.

At the end of the plenary session of the Chinese Parliament which met from March 5 to 13, there is no longer any doubt: Xi Jinping has succeeded in concentrating all powers in the hands of a few faithful, and green development of China is one of its priorities. It’s necessary “promote green and low-carbon economic and social development”, said the Chinese president in his closing speech on March 13. Beijing’s objectives are clear: reach the peak of CO emissions2 before 2030, then carbon neutrality before 2060. But it is just as clear that China is having the greatest difficulty in following the set trajectory.

In 2022, according to the report prepared by the National Development and Reform Commission and presented to Parliament, CO emissions2 per unit of GDP fell by 0.8%, but energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by only 0.1%. Results well below the five-year targets set for lower energy intensity (–13.5% between 2020 and 2025) and carbon intensity (–18% in the energy sector), especially since the priority remains economic growth and energy security.

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The document of the Development and Reform Commission highlights in particular the installed capacities of renewable energies, which have crossed the bar of 1.2 billion kilowatts, as well as the 6.9 million hybrid and electric vehicles. which were sold in 2022, a figure that jumped 93.4% compared to 2021. “For eight years, China has ranked first in the world in terms of the volume of production and sales of new energy vehicles,” welcomes the document. Now, a quarter of the vehicles circulating in China are hybrid or electric.

Targets set for unreachable provinces

For 2023, China does not lack ambition a priori. “It will be necessary to accelerate the ecological transition of the mode of development; deepen the fight against pollution; actively and cautiously pursue our actions to reach the peak of CO emissions2 and carbon neutrality; apply an all-out economy strategy; coordinate actions in the areas of industrial restructuring, treatment of pollution, protection of ecosystems and the fight against climate change; and synergistically advance the reduction of carbon emissions, the reduction of pollution, the promotion of green development and the maintenance of growth”, reads the report of the National Development and Reform Commission. But, in the end, only one quantified objective is indicated: to reduce “energy consumption per unit of GDP by around 2%”.

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