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Tsinghua Released Research Findings on China’s 2050 Strategy for Zero Emissions

On October 12, 2020, the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Development at Tsinghua University (ICCSD) revealed primary findings on China’s long-term low carbon development strategy and transition pathways. Started in January 2019 with support from Energy Foundation China (EF China), this was China’s first comprehensive decarbonization research targeting net-zero emissions. A multi-disciplinary team of 24 leading research institutions and think tanks conducted 18 sub-projects to explore pathways to achieve zero emissions in China by 2050. At the event, their findings were presented in a systematic way for the first time and scholars, government officials, and philanthropists discussed viable pathways for deep decarbonization, in light of China’s newly announced 2060 carbon neutrality commitments.

Photo by Ning KANG

The October 12, 2020 event was attended by officials from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the Ministry of Transport; experts and scholars from government thin tanks and research institutes, such as the National Expert Committee on Climate Change, the National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, the State Information Center, Tsinghua University, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences; and representatives from philanthropies and the media.

EF China established its flagship Long Term Strategy for Decarbonization Task Force in 2018, and its first endeavor was this 2050 zero emission research jointly initiated with ICCSD. The research has provided independent input into China’s Mid-Century Strategy, which will be submitted to the Paris Agreement secretariat by the end of the year.

When elaborating the original purpose, guiding principles, multi scenarios, and findings of the research at the event, Prof. He Jiankun, Director of ICCSD’s Academic Board, presented different trajectories for China’s transition toward energy sustainability and low carbon growth by 2050, based on coordinated systematic data for each milestone between now and the mid-century (PPT). He also provided advice for priority issues during the 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP) period and his understanding of the far-reaching goals proposed by President Xi Jinping in his United Nations general Assembly speech in late September.

Photo by Wei XU

Xie Zhenhua, China’s former Special Representative for Climate Change Affairs and ICCSD president who chaired the steering committee of the research, said that President Xi’s pledge reflected China’s consistent and clear goals against the climate change. In efforts to help address tough challenges in meeting the goals, he expressed hope that the research findings would provide input to the development and implementation of national decarbonization policies. ICCSD would also continue to make research contributions to China’s low carbon transition and 2060 carbon neutrality efforts, he said.

Zhao Yingmin, Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment, said that the research findings would provide critical supports for China’s low carbon development strategy, nationally determined contributions, and Mid-Century Strategy. He also put forward next-step priorities for fulfilling President Xi’s carbon pledges, including ambitious carbon indicators in the next FYP, peaking plans at both national and local levels, acceleration of the national carbon market, and others.

Zou Ji, CEO and President of Energy Foundation China, expressed gratitude to Xie Zhenhua for his vision, wisdom, and courage. He also thanked government support for this research, and congratulated the Tsinghua team and the 24 institutions involved in the program. He said, “The research is essentially support and a response from the academic community to the declaration made by President Xi at the UN General Assembly. Through solid analysis, the research team of top Chinese experts has demonstrated the strength and leadership of the community, mirrored China’s great vision and ambition in climate change, presented a shared future for mankind, and displayed the great sense of responsibility.” Energy Foundation China had made continued efforts to establish an multi-lateral open platform for international climate cooperation, according to him. Support from Energy Foundation China to this research demonstrated what exchanges and cooperation with the international community and multi-lateral efforts could achieve for global issues such as climate change, said him.

In the past three years, EF China has supported a package of policy researches for a new growth model of sustainable prosperity for China based on carbon neutrality. In June 2019, Zou Ji proposed his vision for China’s long-term goals of climate action to senior Chinese policymakers at the annual gathering of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development, including carbon neutrality by 2060 and climate neutrality by 2070. EF China has since then engaged climate and energy experts as well as those in economics and development, to make the case for the feasibility and opportunity of net zero.

In the coming stage, EF China will continue to support research for an “all-win” pathway for deep decarbonization in China, and identify ambitious goals for the 14th FYP period, explore a feasible roadmap for emissions peaking against the backdrop of carbon neutrality, facilitate the green, low-carbon transition of the Chinese economy, and help tell the China Story in these areas.

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Public Launch of Outcomes China's Low-carbon Development Strategies and Transition Pathways ICCSD

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