context: While this readout largely mirrors the tone of established policy, it does hint at stronger support for renewables, especially hydrogen. Many officials still do not recognise the importance of decarbonisation or the systemic approach needed to achieve it. Xi’s speech is largely aimed at them. Cutting emissions now is important, but putting in place the systemic changes to achieve carbon neutrality while ensuring economic prosperity is the top priority.

Carbon peaking and neutrality were the subjects of Politburo’s 36th group study session, hosted by Xi Jinping on 24 Jan 2022.

Xi Jinping emphasised

  • achieving carbon peaking and neutrality entails a broad and deep transformation
  • Beijing must adopt a systemic view of decarbonisation
  • there are four relationships that must be balanced
    • development and emissions reduction
      • reducing emissions does not mean reducing output or zero emissions
      • energy security, industrial chain and supply chain security, and food security must be ensured during decarbonisation
    • the whole and the components
      • the realities of resource distribution and the spatial division of labour need to be considered
      • a ‘one size fits all’ or ‘one fell swoop’ approach cannot be adopted
    • long-term and short-term approaches
    • reconciling government and market

Xi called for

  • strengthening coordination
  • advancing the energy revolution
    • ‘setting up new (systems) before destroying old (ones)’
    • planning large-scale wind and solar hubs supported by nearby clean and efficient coal plants with UHV lines
    • controlling fossil fuel energy consumption, especially growth in coal consumption
    • ensuring coal supply security
    • maintaining stable growth in oil and gas production capacity
    • giving more weight to the promotion of new and clean energy
    • accelerating development of wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, marine and hydrogen energy
  • advancing industrial upgrading
    • advancing coordination with internet, 5G and other emerging technology
    • boosting the role of low carbon industries in the economy
    • strictly controlling the emissions of new projects
    • curbing blind development of energy- and emissions-intensive projects
    • increasing waste reclamation and developing the circular economy
    • advocating green, low carbon and healthy moderate lifestyles
  • accelerating the green and low carbon scitech revolution
  • refining policy systems
    • refining the ‘dual control’ system
    • creating unified emissions accounting and calculation standards
  • participating in and leading global climate governance

Xi also called for

  • incorporating localities’ decarbonisation performance and relevant indicators into the socioeconomic assessment system
  • increasing the weighting of assessments
  • strengthening binding indicators