Chinese companies will need to cut direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of their operations by up to 2.7% a year if China is to stay on track with the level of action required to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, says a new report authored by climate consultants Ecofys for green group WWF.
China’s power generation sector, which draws upon coal for around 68% of its output, will need to cut its carbon footprint by around 8% a year if China is to do its bit in helping the world avoid runaway climate change, the report adds.
Companies in the world’s second-biggest economy account for around half of China’s emissions, the report says, and it adds that a decisive shift away from fossil fuels will only happen if management is committed to low carbon energy and specific targets.
But the extent that many Chinese companies are willing to switch to cleaner forms of energy appears highly limited, at least in the short-term.
The WWF/Ecofys report offers some solutions, however.
Companies outside the utility sector have the opportunity to use on-site renewable generation, improving the efficiency of the electricity they use, and buy of renewable fuels and electricity, the report says.
Sze Ping-Lo, who heads WWF China, points to GHG reduction targets at Vanke (a real estate company) and Yingli (a maker of photovoltaic panels).
But whether most of corporate China, particularly big energy users, will even bother taking action to reduce their carbon footprint is likely to depend strongly on carbon pricing in a future nationwide emissions trading scheme, subsidies, taxes, and tough environmental laws that are enforced properly.
Foreign companies also have a major responsibility for China’s carbon emissions, given that the country is the world’s largest manufacturer of electronics for large corporations such as Apple and Samsung, and is the world’s biggest producer of primary materials such as steel, aluminium and refrigerants.