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Which decarbonisation pathway for China? Insights from recent energy-emissions scenarios
Un article consacré à la trajectoire de décarbonisation de la Chine à partir de l'analyse de scénarios d'émissions de CO2. Ceux-ci permettent en effet d'évaluer les points d'étape nécessaires (2020 et 2030) dans une perspective décarbonée à l'horizon 2050 et au-delà. Malgré les incertitudes relatives, notamment, à l'évolution de la croissance économique du pays, les scénarios pointent la nécessité d'une amélioration de l'intensité énergétique et d'un bouleversement du « paradigme charbon ».
Points clés [en anglais] :
MAKING BETTER USE OF ENERGY EMISSIONS LONG-TERM SCENARIOS FOR CHINA
Scenarios should be used more extensively to prepare for the future Chinese economic transformations and their energy-environment implications. In particular, they are helpful to better assess the necessary milestones (e.g. objectives at 2020 or 2030) to set the country on a low-carbon development path (at 2050 and beyond), and shift from the current overwhelming coal paradigm. Unfortunately, the difficulties to understand and compare scenarios are preventing their appropriation. A post-treatment methodology can enhance their reading, which seems necessary to draw the lessons for the future Chinese policy and economic orientations.
A DIVERSITY OF PROJECTED EMISSIONS PATHS: LESSONS FROM THEIR COMPARISON
Different modelling approaches and underlying scenario storylines lead to sometimes contrasted supply or demand-side emissions abatement potentials. In particular the wide uncertainty on the Chinese economic growth has huge implications on future emission profiles. Energy intensity improvement is a crucial factor for driving down future CO2 emissions in the short term, in all scenarios (including Business as Usual). But the decarbonisation of overall energy inputs, much constrained by the energy system inertia, is the only factor capable to set China on a low-carbon development path in the longer term. However, the relative weights and magnitudes of those factors widely differ across scenarios. If mitigation policies should better drive a smooth transition toward a low-carbon economy, delayed action usually require more aggressive decarbonisation effort in the long term.
THE NECESSARY TRANSFORMATION OF THE CHINESE ECONOMY IN A GREEN GROWTH PERSPECTIVE
Beyond the improvement of the energy and carbon intensities, the Chinese economy will have to shift from the current paradigm. In such perspective, structural transformations will act as a catalyst for the low-carbon development processes. In particular the interactions between the macro and sectoral levels will define the possible mitigation options and abatement potentials over time. At the centre of this transformation are the technological, societal and organizational innovation capacity, the urbanization process and related urban-transport nexus, etc. There is a lack of representation of those processes in current models and scenarios, which now needs to be addressed in the perspective of stimulating a new China-tailored model of development.