Low Carbon Economic Growth

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published Jan 22, 2014 01:55 PM, last modified Sep 28, 2017 05:37 PM

The Low Carbon Economic Growth Program is interested in efforts to:

  1. Support research on the mid- and long-term strategies, policies, and technological paths of a green and low-carbon transition, especially comprehensive scenario analyses that encompass energy, environment, economy and climate change considerations, and the development of analytical tools for these analyses; Support China’s bilateral climate change dialogues with the US, EU, India, and other strategic regions to leverage China’s green leadership in sustainable strategies;
  2. Support research on green financing and green pricing that provides education and analysis for an economic system that creates a level playing field for clean energy and facilitates a green and low-carbon transition; and
  3. Support the mainstreaming of a green and low-carbon transition in economic policymaking, research, and policy implementation; and assist local governments to develop low-carbon green economic transition plans and carbon emissions peaking plans.


The Paris Agreement on Climate Change laid out a post-2020 roadmap for the first time, stating that the whole world will act together to combat climate change. The goals are to achieve the overall peaking of global greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, become carbon neutral in the mid-21st century, and achieve net zero emissions of greenhouse gases in the latter half of the century. With these objectives, the next 15 years will be a key period for the world to achieve green and low-carbon development and transition to a clean energy system. As the largest emitter in the world, China’s growth model in the coming fifteen years will arguably be the most critical factor defining the future of the global climate.

By 2030, China is likely to become the world’s largest economy, with per capita income consistent with advanced economies. China is already the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter. By 2030, even if China follows the development path set by INDC measures, China will account for thirty percent of total global emissions. In order to ensure global climate safety and achieve China’s domestic environmental improvement goals, China will need to: a) increase its ambition in greenhouse gas reduction efforts by reaching a lower and earlier emissions peak, and b) follow that with a sharp decline in emissions levels, avoiding a long, post-peak plateau. To achieve this ambitious but necessary goal, China needs to invent a new growth model that will enable it to become a modern and prosperous economy, but with a much lower carbon and pollution footprint.

China’s double-digit growth model, driven by heavy investment in energy-intensive industries of the past few decades cannot be sustained into the future – fiscally, economically, or environmentally. China must restructure its economy to promote innovation, sustainable consumption, the service sector, and higher value-added growth. And most important for global warming, China must delink carbon pollution from economic growth. China’s “new normal” development and economic reform agenda as well as its efforts to reduce overcapacity and green its fiscal and tax system create opportunities to increase investments in green growth, especially overarching analyses that show where the Chinese economy might go. The UNFCCC process to increase INDC ambition, and the G20 agenda on green financing and fossil fuel subsidies also make the next two years an important window of opportunity.

One challenge has always been how to implement green growth policies on the ground. In past five years, China’s 42 low-carbon pilots have created policy champions, generated sectoral best practices, and driven local leaders’ support for low-carbon development. Based on this work, the National Development and Reform Commission launched the Alliance of Peaking Pioneer Cities, a set of cities that have committed to early peaking of greenhouse gas emissions. Our program will help to make these efforts successful.

The Low Carbon Economic Growth Program is committed to assisting China to realize a green economic growth transition by supporting the above activities.


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