Xi reaffirms carbon neutrality policy at 20th Party Congress

context: Xi’s words reaffirm current policy commitments set out in recent 5-year plans with no major pivots. China’s decarbonisation policy for the next few years is now, mostly, set in stone: the focus will move to implementation.

Xi Jinping addressed China’s carbon neutrality campaign in his speech at the opening of the 20th Party Congress on 16 October.

He called for

  • actively and stably pursuing carbon peaking and neutrality
    • (CP note: wording here is unsurprising and represents a continuation of previous policy)
  • setting up new systems before destroying old ones
    • (CP note: refers to ensuring that clean energy systems are reliable and affordable before coal, oil and gas are phased out)
  • implement carbon-peaking actions in a step-by-step manner
  • refining ‘dual control’ policies by gradually shifting to carbon emissions and carbon intensity measures to control fossil fuel consumption
    • (CP note: strong support for this policy evolution is not surprising, it will reshape centre-local control over emissions)
  • advancing the energy revolution
  • strengthening clean and efficient use of coal
    • (CP note: this was always bound to be included: ‘clean and efficient use of coal’ has been the industry’s catchcry since the October 2021 power crunch)
  • increasing oil and gas exploration, development and storage
  • accelerating the planning and building of a new energy system
    • (CP note: this refers to the ‘unified national power market system’ promised by top-level planners in Jan 2022; the call here to ‘accelerate’ progress is aimed at getting local officials, grid firms and other stakeholders to stop sitting on their hands and get to work)
  • coordinating hydropower with ecological protection
    • (CP note: this consideration rarely makes it into top-level speeches, so its inclusion may signal growing concern and care for China’s riverine ecosystems, especially the Yangtze River)
  • actively and safely developing nuclear power in an orderly manner
  • strengthening energy system integration of production, supply, storage and sales
  • ensuring energy security
  • refining carbon emissions calculation and accounting systems
    • (CP note: recognising that faulty data threatens China’s climate credibility and trust in the carbon market, emissions accounting has become a major focus for regulators since early 2022 when multiple instances of data forgery, tampering and inaccuracy arose)
  • enhancing the carbon market
  • improving ecosystem carbon sink capacity
  • actively participating in global climate governance