China’s emissions cuts are trumping economic growth this year, experts say

BEIJING — Contrary to its usual practice, China has not set a target for the degree to which it will reduce its energy intensity this year — a sign that Beijing may be prioritizing economic growth over energy for now. reducing emissions.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said energy intensity reductions – referring to energy consumption per unit of economic output – would be assessed over the five-year period from 2021 to 2025 to allow “appropriate flexibility”.

Li was presenting this year’s government work report at the opening of China’s annual legislative meetings, known as the two sessions or lianghuiin Beijing on Saturday March 5.

This year’s report did not contain any quantified emission reduction targets.

The decision not to set an energy intensity reduction target allows Beijing to “maintain an appropriate level of flexibility, both providing reasonable leeway for energy consumption to ensure performance economy, and urging local governments to maintain their energy conservation efforts,” he added. The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, said in its economic plan, also released on Saturday.

Last year, Beijing set a target of reducing energy intensity by 3%.

In the same year, he released China’s 14th Five-Year Plan – its economic plan for 2021 to 2025 – which sets a target to reduce energy intensity by 13.5% from 2020 levels.

This year, Li said Beijing had set a target for gross domestic product growth of “about 5.5%”, down from the 8.1% the Chinese economy had achieved last year. last year as it rebounded from the pandemic.

But he also said that reaching this year’s growth target would take “arduous efforts”.

Economic stability was a top priority this year, the prime minister said, adding that the government would ensure “an adequate supply of electricity to…carry out normal business operations and production”.

The decision to replace coal with alternative energy sources would be made in “a well-ordered manner”, he said.

According to Zhang Zhiwei, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management, Beijing has decided to drop an energy intensity reduction target this year to avoid the problems that have arisen in parts of the country due to power constraints. last year didn’t happen again.

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