China set for 20% clean energy target as part of US climate pact

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China could adopt a 20% clean energy target as part of a suite of measures on climate change announced in tandem with the US.

The world’s two largest polluters released a joint statement at the APEC summit in Beijing with both offering absolute cuts in greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2020.

China will look to peak its emissions before 2030 and then start reducing them in absolute terms. The US has set a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% by 2025 compared to 2005 levels.

In addition, China has said it will aim to source 20% of its primary energy consumption from non-fossil fuels by 2030. The wording allows for nuclear to contribute to the objective.

Both countries said they could increase the ambition of their pledges at a later date.

Ray Lian, analyst for NPD Solarbuzz, said China’s PV target certainly had room for more ambition.

“The PV target for 2020 is 100GW, to me that is still very conservative and I am sure China will exceed this target,” he told PV Tech.

Countries are likely to be conservative with new climate pledges ahead of the 2015 UN climate summit that seeks to finalise a global climate treaty.

The 21 countries at the APEC summit also committed to doubling the share of renewables in their energy mix by 2030.

“We plan to do our part to help meet this ambitious new goal,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO, US Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “The price to install a solar rooftop system has been cut in half, while utility systems have dropped by 70%. It took the US solar industry 40 years to install the first 20GW of solar – which is enough to effectively power nearly four million American homes – but we’re going to install the next 20GW in the next two years. That’s remarkable growth and puts us on a path to help meet APEC’s goal.”

Fatih Birol, chief economist at the International Energy Agency, said: “The deal, the joint commitment of US and China, represents a giant leap for mankind, for two reasons. One, these two countries are responsible for 45% of the emissions today. Second, on the road to Paris, this decision of yesterday injects a very badly political momentum.

“Of course we shouldn’t forget the EU has already made a commitment to reduce emissions by 40% in 2030. So if the efforts of US, China and EU are going to materialise, plus if we see other countries that have not yet committed themselves follow the same pattern, we may well see that we use our last chance in Paris in the best way.”

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