Climate Change Research ›› 2022, Vol. 18 ›› Issue (2): 240-252.doi: 10.12006/j.issn.1673-1719.2021.058

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Implications and pathways of China's carbon neutrality: a review

ZHANG Hao-Nan1(), SHEN Rong-Rong1, ZHANG Xing-Ping1,2, KANG Jun-Jie3, YUAN Jia-Hai1,2()   

  1. 1 School of Economics and Management, North China Electric Power University, Beijing 102206, China
    2 Beijing Key Laboratory of New Energy and Low-Carbon Development, Beijing 102206, China
    3 Energy Research Institute, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2021-03-31 Revised:2021-05-31 Online:2022-03-30 Published:2022-02-28
  • Contact: YUAN Jia-Hai;


China's carbon neutrality, aligned with the global 2℃/1.5℃ target, has become a programmatic target to guide China's medium and long-term sustainable development. Through the literature review, the discussion about the important proposition that “carbon neutrality is a broad and profound systematic socio-economic revolution” is presented from two aspects of target connotation interpretation and feasible pathway description. Indeed, China's carbon neutrality aims to net-zero GHG emissions. China should formulate a medium-term action plan based on the phased emission reduction performance to gradually achieve the long-term carbon neutral. And China needs to focus on the alternative transition directions of “zero carbon landscape” dominated by high-share non-fossil energy and “net zero landscape” represented by decarbonization of fossil energy, which likely creates a contradictory picture. Collaborative carbon neutral solutions necessitates the joint support of top-level design from government, cooperation among industries and enterprise practice, with the strong external force of market-oriented tools such as “power market, carbon market, finance market”, to strengthen the collaborative exploration, innovation and application of feasible and affordable zero-carbon, low-carbon and decarbonization technologies, which can relief the transition barriers and the cost of emission reduction as much as possible. In terms of carbon neutralization technology path, energy efficiency technologies, new energy and digitization will run through the process of carbon neutralization. In the short term, the critical task is to strengthen the application of flexible resources such as energy storage and demand response and boost the terminal electrification. In the medium term, it is necessary to strengthen energy interconnection and promote the demonstration application of low-carbon materials and negative emission technologies. And in the long term, it is necessary to evaluate a practical and affordable comprehensive carbon neutralization method to ensure the safety, low-cost and reliability of carbon neutral transition.

Key words: Carbon neutrality, Target connotation, Feasible paths, Review

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