Oct 8, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The (potential) price tag for China's carbon plan

Illustration of a briefcase lined with the Chinese flag

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

China's recently announced plan to reach carbon neutrality by 2060 would require investments of over $5 trillion, per new analysis from the consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Why it matters: The estimate released Thursday shows how analysts are beginning to grapple with how China, by far the world's largest carbon emitter, might take steps to implement aspects of its ambitious but still-vague pledge.

  • "The hefty bill is the total sum required for additional power generation capacity to accommodate the growth in electrification by 2050," the consultancy said.

What they're saying: “It is definitely a colossal task for a country using 90% hydrocarbons in its energy mix and annually producing more than 10 billion tonnes of [carbon dioxide-equivalent], and in addition, accounting for 28% of global total emissions," said Prakash Sharma, a senior Woodmac analyst, in a statement.

The big picture: The scale of transformation needed is simply immense.

  • For instance, Woodmac estimates that China's wind, solar and storage capacity would have to increase elevenfold to 5,040 gigawatts (GW) by 2050 compared to 2020 levels.
  • "Total new stock of electric vehicles would hit 325 million units by 2050, compared to 4 million units today."

Go deeper: China's 2060 carbon neutral goal bill could hit over $5 trillion (Reuters)

Go deeper