Emissions intensity targeting: From China's 12th five year plan to its Copenhagen commitment

Author name: 
Lu Y
Stegman A
Cai Y

China is currently the world’s largest single source of fossil fuel related CO2 emissions. In response to pressure from the international community, and in recognition of its role in global climate change mitigation, the Chinese government has announced a series of climate policy commitments, in both the Copenhagen Accord and its domestic 12th 5 Year Plan, to gradually reduce emissions intensity by 2020. Emissions intensity reduction commitments differ significantly from emission level reduction commitments that are commonly adopted by developed economies. In this paper, we investigate the economic implications of China’s recent commitments to reduce emissions intensity, and highlight the complexities involved in modelling intensity targets under uncertainty. Using G-Cubed, an intertemporal, computable general equilibrium model of the world economy, we show that China’s emissions intensity targets could be achieved with a range of low and high growth emissions level trajectories corresponding to low and high growth GDP scenarios, which lead to different welfare consequences.

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