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Research Report

Transforming the Power Sector in Developing Countries: The Critical Role of China in Post-Paris Implementation

Robert F. Ichord
Copyright Date: Mar. 1, 2017
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 28
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 2-2)

    This is the second in a series of Atlantic Council reports on the transformation of the electric power sector in the developing and non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries and its implications for the success of the Paris Agreement on climate change, ratified by the United States and China in September 2016 and signed by 124 other countries to date.

    China’s role in the global transformation process toward clean energy and in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on November 4, 2016, is huge. It has become increasingly clear that the Chinese leadership has...

  2. (pp. 3-5)

    China is at a historic turning point in the development of its economy and energy system. The structural change in its economy and movement away from the heavy industry model is creating enormous pressures on businesses and labor as well as challenges for the energy transformation process. The massive electric power sector in China, the largest in the world with over 1,500 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity⁸ (compared with 1,100 GW in the United States⁹), will play a central role, and the nature and pace of its movement away from coal will be decisive for both the Chinese and world...

  3. (pp. 6-17)

    China’s power system needs a more market-based and less politically and administratively driven regulatory framework to reduce emissions and energy intensity.

    Over the past two years, the Chinese government has taken a number of important policy steps toward transforming the power sector. In addition to China’s announcement that it intends to peak CO2 emissions by 2030, the National Energy Administration (NEA) ordered in April 2016 a halt to construction of new coal power plants in thirteen provinces and delays for already-approved projects in a further fifteen provinces.19 NEA also placed a moratorium in 2015 on new coal mines in China...

  4. (pp. 18-19)

    China’s energy transformation efforts are unprecedented in their size and speed. These changes along with slower economic growth contributed to the apparent flattening of global CO2 emissions in 2015. As China is the world’s largest GHG emitter, its changing energy mix and strong political commitment to move to a more environmentally sustainable economic path offer hope that the trajectory of GHG emissions can be altered to meet the targets set in Paris. The International Energy Agency paints an optimistic picture for China to peak emissions before 2030 and exceed 20 percent non-fossil fuels.78 The world has clearly benefited from the...