Clean Fuels Are the Key to Energy Security Amid Geopolitical Uncertainties

published Jun 13, 2022
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The Russia-Ukraine war has brought new challenges to the global economy, climate responses, and energy security. Global geopolitical changes will exert far-reaching influence on international cooperation in such fields as trade, science and technology, finance, and climate action. How to continue international climate cooperation against the ever-changing political and economic backdrop is crucial to the deployment of clean energy and the achievement of carbon neutrality.

It is estimated that by 2030 when China peaks its carbon emissions, its GDP per capita will be about $20,000. By contrast, when developed countries peaked their carbon emissions in 2006 to 2007, their GDP per capita was more than $40,000. China will consume more energy to expand its economy in the future, and the increased demand can be met mostly by rapid-growing renewable energy capacities. However, there is still a huge stock of fossil fuel capacities in China’s energy mix, which is hard to optimize in the short term. In order to achieve a green transition and ensure energy security, China should rebalance its new and legacy energy capacities from the following aspects in the next 10 years and beyond:

Firstly, China should develop clean energy such as solar, wind, hydro, and hydrogen; deploy electric vehicles; and explore energy storage technologies. Meanwhile, greater efforts should be made to address the existing fossil fuel capacities, including phasing down coal, mitigating the damage of fossil fuels to the environment, and cutting carbon dioxide emitting into the atmosphere.

Secondly, China should improve its energy efficiency, which is 1.7 times lower than the world average and 2.5 to 3 times lower than that of the developed countries. This means huge potential for cutting emissions. In oil tank storage and oil refining, for instance, at least 50 percent of volatile organic compound emissions can be reduced through technological upgrading, cutting down both energy consumption and carbon emissions at the same time.

Thirdly, China should research, develop, and demonstrate carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies. They are an effective resort that China must use to cut emissions when it cannot slash fossil fuel consumption on a large scale in the short term.

Fourthly, China should carry out international cooperation on carbon emission reductions and carbon trading. As the carbon system has just been established in China, many companies do not understand how to calculate or verify their carbon emissions. We can advance the cooperation among think tanks, enterprises, auditing firms, and service companies from China and elsewhere in the world, and provide technical support for carbon mitigation and carbon trading. In addition, cultivating new professional consulting services is also a crucial catalyst toward faster industrial and economic transformations. 

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