China’s Climate Transition: Outlook 2022

In this groundbreaking report tracking China’s climate transition, the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) assessed China’s progress in curbing emissions against 19 different benchmarks and carried out a survey of 26 Chinese energy sector analysts and experts.

The assessment found multiple indicators that were on track:

  • Annually added clean energy capacity
  • Electrification
  • Electric vehicle sales
  • Building sector emissions
  • Cement production emissions

However, the report also found that total energy consumption, including energy consumption in industry and buildings, was growing significantly faster than in the Paris-aligned pathways, indicating an energy-intensive pattern of economic growth, as well as lagging progress on energy efficiency in buildings.

A combination of increased energy efficiency measures, a shift in the economic growth model, or an even larger scale of clean energy investment than projected in the transition scenarios is needed for China to successfully peak emissions.

While energy consumption growth has slowed down, at least temporarily, in 2022, two of CREA’s indicators continued to be off track: investments in new coal-based steel capacity have increased in 2022. Permitting of new coal power plants has increased and the government is actively encouraging more coal power capacity. Investments in the power and steel industries need to be aligned with the transition, with a rapid shift away from new coal-based capacity.

The framework laid out in this report is meant as the basis for a regular re-assessment and update of China’s progress by CREA.

This report was supported by the Heinrich Böll Foundation (Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung), a public funded institute in Germany for green visions and projects whose primary task is political awareness building in Germany and abroad to promote democratic will, socio-political commitment and international understanding. 

The report is available in English and Chinese.

Lauri Myllyvirta, Lead analyst (CREA); Xing Zhang, Senior analyst (CREA); Liansai Dong (Independent analyst)