China’s changing economy: implications for its carbon dioxide emissions
As China’s government finalises the country’s 13th Five Year Plan for economic development (2016–2020), this article takes stock of recent changes in China’s economy and energy system since the turn of the century, and looks ahead to the likely trajectory of China’s emissions over the next decade. The period 2000–2013, it is now clear, was a distinct and exceptional phase in China’s developmental history, during which the very high levels of greenhouse gases emitted were linked closely with the energy-intensive, heavy industry-based growth model pursued at that time. China is currently undergoing another major structural transformation — towards a new development model focused on achieving better quality growth that is more sustainable and inclusive — and it is also grappling with economic challenges associated with the transition. Data from 2014 and the first three quarters of 2015 illustrate the extent of these changes. Based on analysis of this data in light of the underlying changes occurring in China’s economy and policy, this article provides an updated forecast of the Kaya components of energy CO2 emissions (GDP, energy/GDP and CO2/energy) over the next decade to 2025. It concludes that China’s CO2 emissions from energy, if they grow at all, are likely to grow much slower than under the old economic model and are likely to peak at some point in the decade before 2025.