Towards a Low-Carbon Economy
New Horizons in Environmental Economics series
Chapter 5: In What Format and Under What Time Frame Would China Take on Climate Commitments? A Roadmap to 2050
1 INTRODUCTION 1. In addressing climate change issues, China and India are always put together as the big emerging economies. There are similarities between the two most populous countries, but there exist substantial differences between them. Such differences imply that China needs to be prepared to take on even more stringent greenhouse gas emission commitments and correspondingly to bear the higher compliance costs than India. Let me explain why. Both China and India rely heavily on coal to fuel their economies, but coal accounts for a much larger share in China’s energy mix than that of India’s. As the world’s largest coal producer and consumer, China produces and consumes about twice as much coal as the US, the world’s second largest producer and consumer. Coal has accounted for over two-thirds of China’s primary energy consumption for several decades. Coal-fired power plants dominate total electricity generation in China, consuming over half of the total coal use. As a result, China’s total installed capacity of coal-fired power plants is more than the current total of the US, the UK and India combined, and China’s annual capacity addition is more than the addition of five years combined for India. Both countries have experienced spectacular economic growth over the past two decades, but China has grown and is projected to continue to grow faster than India for quite some time to follow. Economic structure differs significantly between the two countries. In comparison with other countries at its income level, China has an unusually large...
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