Economic Watch: China forges ahead in building green future

TIANJIN, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- China's unwavering commitment to promoting clean energy has been widely appreciated at the Summer Davos 2018, as participants forecast China's continuous efforts to further structural energy reform.

"China does not claim to be a leader, but it is, in fact, a leading force in green energy," said Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University.

Lin said on a panel at the annual meeting that China's carbon emission might peak by 2022, eight years sooner than China's pledge in the Paris Agreement. China also promised to cut carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels.

In the past five years, China cut coal production capacity by 800 million tonnes, according to a report by China's top legislature published in July. Coal consumption, a major contributor to the country's air pollution, has fallen by 8.1 percent in the same period.

China has seen a remarkable improvement in air quality as a result. The average density of PM10 in 338 Chinese cities at prefecture level and above in 2017 decreased by 22.7 percent compared to 2013 levels.

China's investment in clean energy stood at 132.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the global total.

By 2020, the country plans to invest 2.5 trillion yuan (about 370 billion U.S. dollars) in renewable energy, according to the National Energy Administration.

"The country has been through a period of fast, high-polluting growth. But that's over," said Isabel Hilton, editor of Chinadialogue. "China is now making a transition to a higher value, lower carbon economy."

Statistics show that China's installed solar power capacity was nearly 30 million kilowatts by 2017, and is expected to exceed 160 million kilowatts by 2020, accounting for almost 10 percent of the country's total installed electricity capacity.

China also ranked the third regarding the total installed capacity of offshore wind turbines, accounting for 11 percent of the world's total as of the end of 2016, after Britain and Germany.

Due to continuous economic growth and strong policy support for air pollution control, gas consumption in China is likely to contribute 37 percent to the global gas consumption rise between 2017 and 2023, surpassing any other country in the world.

China's energy structure will be less carbon intensive in the future, with low-carbon energy's proportion in primary energy mix rising to around 25 percent by 2020, over 35 percent by 2030, and 50 to 60 percent by 2050.

Apart from efforts on the supply side, China is also navigating its energy consumption market to a greener orbit.

In 2017, investment in China's new energy vehicle (NEV) industry surpassed 100 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for over 50 percent of the newly increased investment in the country's vehicle industry.

"The NEV development in China provides an opportunity to upgrade our industry and to tackle air pollution," said Wan Gang, head of the China Association for Science and Technology.

For three consecutive years, China has remained the world's largest NEV market, with some 777,000 cars sold in 2017.

By July this year, China has built 275,000 electric vehicle chargers, up 52 percent year on year. Exclusive license plates for NEVs have been used across the country.

"China is on the right path to realize the goal it set out in the first place," Wan said.