Energy transition, CO2 mitigation, and air pollutant emission reduction: scenario analysis from IPAC model
In China, Energy transition was proposed in the “12th Five-Year Plan” and gained resilient support by “Energy Revolution” announced by President Xi Jinping in 2014. In Paris Agreement, there are targets set up for 2100 to be well below 2 °C, with ambitious target on 1.5 °C. China signed the agreement and will support the global target. In the meantime, large-scale actions were initiated in 2013 by the national action plan on air pollution control for the period from 2013 to 2017. None of these strategies has clear long-term target. In our studies, energy transition will be decided by the long-term target of CO2 emission reduction, air pollutant reduction, and energy security. This paper will present the analysis from IPAC model, by setting up reduction target for CO2 emission under the global 2 °C and 1.5 °C target. Energy transition, CO2 emission, and air pollutant reduction will be discussed based on these targets. For air pollutants, SO2, NOx, PM2.5, black carbon, and mercury will be included. From the results, there will be a significant energy transition by large-scale use of renewable energy, nuclear and the share of coal will be reduced to less than 20% in 2050 from 66% in 2015. Energy transition will also contribute to a drastic reduction in air pollutants.
KeywordsEnergy transition CO2 mitigation Air pollutant Scenario China
In China, there are already multiple national strategies set up for energy transition, GHG mitigation, and air pollutant reduction. Energy transition was proposed in the 12th Five-Year Plan (NEA 2011) and gained strong support by “Energy Revolution” announced by President Xi Jinping in 2014. In Paris Agreement, there are targets set up for 2100 to be well below 2 °C, with ambitious target on 1.5 °C. China signed the agreement and will support the global target. In the meantime, large-scale actions were initiated in 2013 by the national action plan on air pollution control for the period from 2013 to 2017. None of these strategies has clear long-term target.
Energy transition was firstly proposed in the 12th Five-Year Plan for China by identifying key areas such as developing renewable energy and nuclear, clean heat supply, and promoting natural gas development. In 2014, energy revolution strategy proposed by President Xi Jinping is the mile stone for energy transition, which focused on four aspects, including energy consumption revolution, energy supply revolution, energy technology revolution, and energy regime revolution. Controlling energy demand, enhancing energy efficiency, promoting clean energy including renewable energy, nuclear, and natural gas, promoting clean energy technology, and establishing energy management regime in order to support the revolution are key components in the energy revolution strategy. These are the fundamental framework to promote energy transition in China.
In 2015, Paris Agreement was adopted in COP21 (UNFCCC 2015), and China signed the agreement. In the Paris Agreement, there are targets set up for 2100 to be well below 2 °C. 1.5 °C is getting to be the ambitious target appeared in the agreement. China proposed NDC by setting up target to peak CO2 emission by around 2030, and make effort to peak earlier, carbon intensity reduction that will be 60% to 65% by 2030 compared with that in 2005, share of non-fossil energy will be 20% while it was 11% in 2015.
Supporting the global 2 °C emission reduction would be China’s emission reduction target, even though there is not yet a specified reduction target regarding this target. Studies about 2 °C emission pathway for China show that China could peak CO2 emission before 2025 and will be 65% reduction by 2050 compared with the peaking year (Jiang et al. 2013; Jiang 2014). As for 1.5 °C target, there is quite lack of studies about 1.5 °C target’s emission pathway, and it is hard to get people convinced that this target is reasonable. In order to answer the question whether this target is achievable or not in UNFCCC. IPCC launched the process to prepare special report on 1.5 °C Target, and this report was scheduled to be published by 2018. Recently, there are few researches about global emission pathway on 1.5 °C target presenting modelling results; it is suggested that the global emission will go to zero emission in between 2050 and 2060 and start negative emission afterwards (van Vuuren et al. 2016; Kriegler et al. 2018; and Rogelj et al. 2016, 2018). The study for China under the 1.5 °C target presents similar emission pathway to be near zero by 2050 (Jiang et al. 2018).
In the meantime, China launched national action plan to improve air quality (State Council of the People 's Republic of China 2013). The policies of air pollution control which started since 2013 have put strong impact on energy use in China. Many of the actions in the plan are energy related. There is coal consumption cap and reduction specified in the plan, together with energy efficiency, promotion of renewable energy, natural gas, etc. By 2017, the targets set up in the plan were well-reached (MOE 2018). There is significant improvement of air quality in the past 5 years. The energy related policies in the plan are very well matching with CO2 emission reduction policies. Driven by these air pollution control action policies, after 2012, China started to control coal use and promote clean energy use, together with economic structure change by peaking most of energy-intensive products now, coal consumption peaked in 2013 in physical unit and in 2014 based on standard coal equivalent and then continue to decline. There were 4.7% reduction in 2015 and 3.7% in 2016. With the increase in natural gas and petroleum products, CO2 emission reduced after 2014. Based on the energy used data in 2016, there are around 450 million tons of CO2 emission reduced, which accounts for 5% of total CO2 emission from energy activities. Even though considering small increase in CO2 emission from clinker manufacture, the quantities of CO2 emission reduction are still 430 million tons.
Linking multiple development targets is getting attractive to the modelling studies, especially IAMs. The IPCC special report on 1.5 °C warming summarized the recent studies about energy transition, GHG emission, and SDGs (IPCC 2014). Major IAMs in the world are involved in these studies (van Vuuren et al. 2017; McCollum et al. 2017). Improving air quality is one of key SDGs and key part for IAMs to link GHG emission pathways and air pollutant emission reduction. There are studies on GHG mitigation with air pollutant emission reduction focusing on China (Liu et al. 2017; Zhang et al. 2016, Zhou et al. 2017), but there is still lack of detail analysis about China’s energy transition, CO2 emission reduction, and air pollutant emission reduction with Paris Agreement targets in China.
In our studies, energy transition will be decided by the long-term target of CO2 emission reduction, air pollutant reduction, and energy security. This paper will present the analysis from IPAC model, by setting up reduction target for CO2 emission under the global 2 °C and 1.5 °C target. The energy transition, CO2 emission, and air pollutant reduction will be given based on these targets. For air pollutants, SO2, NOx, PM2.5, black carbon, mercury will be encompassed.
2.1 Methodology framework
This study was conducted based on the previous analysis about energy transition and 2 °C emission scenarios in China (Jiang et al. 2013, 2016). IPAC-AIM/technology model (a sub-model of Integrated Policy Assessment Model for China, IPAC) was used for emission scenario analysis (Jiang et al. 1998; Jiang and Hu 2006). This study analyses CO2, PM2.5, SO2, NOx, black carbon, and mercury emission from energy and industrial processes from 2010 to 2050 in China.
Air pollutant emissions are calculated in the model based on technologies. Emissions of these air pollutants and reduction technologies are referred and compared with other studies (Zhang et al. 2013; Wang et al. 2011, 2015, 2016; Yang et al. 2013; Tian et al. 2011; Streets et al. 2001).
IPAC-AIM/technology model is a major component of the IPAC model, which aims to simulate energy consumption process by giving a detailed description of energy services and technologies to provide these services with different levels of energy efficiency, cost, and emission factors. IPAC-AIM/technology model is the minimum cost optimization model based on linear programming. Through doing this, it is easier for policy makers to understand the results of modelling simulation with telling the selection of technologies by various policies.
In the IPAC-AIM/technology model, technical parameters include the amount of service output, energy used by other types non-energy inputs, technology fixed investment, and technical pollutant emissions factors. Technical fixed investment is given by year, including both the technical learning curve and the description of future technology cost.
The model covers more than 700 technologies in 55 sectors, of which more than 150 kinds of important technologies in low-carbon and energy-saving fields are selected as the focus of this analysis.
In calculation of primary energy, 100% efficiency for renewable including hydro, wind, solar, 33% efficiency for nuclear and biomass are used here.
In this study, we use two scenarios, which are 2 °C scenario and 1.5 °C scenario. In the 2 °C scenario, we analyse the feasibility and roadmap for China to reduce CO2 emission to match the carbon budget under 2 °C target (Jiang et al. 2013) by enhanced energy efficiency improvement, low-carbon power technologies including renewable energy, nuclear, fossil fuel-fired power generation with CCS. Here, the 1.5 °C scenario’s feasibility analysis will be given based on the modelling analysis. The fundamental idea is to make power generation to have low emission or negative emission; furthermore, much more electricity consumption will be adopted in the end-use sector. Because energy efficiency is already fully adopted in the 2 °C scenario, there is no more analysis for further energy efficiency options in the 1.5 °C scenario. However, there are energy efficiency effects by electrification in end-use sectors, such as electric car in transport sector, even by considering power generation efficiency.
3 Scenario setting
Population scenario in IPAC
Person per household
Person per household
Energy-intensive product outputs scenario in IPAC
Lead and zinc
Paper and paperboard
Share of outputs of selected goods from China in the world in 2015
Share of the world (%)
804 million ton
1123 million ton
2359 million ton
31.41 million ton
7.96 million ton
6.15 million ton
Energy-intensive products are consuming nearly 50% of energy in China; so if there is no significant increase in energy-intensive products production, with a much lower growth than the GDP, the energy use in these energy-intensive products will also be limited. This will be a big contribution on energy intensity per GDP decrease and then contribution on CO2 intensity.
Urban household parameters in IPAC
Share of HH with space heating
Index of space heating intensity
2000 = 1
Index of space heating time
2000 = 1
Share of building with 50% efficiency standard
Ownership of air conditioner
Per 100 households (HH)
Index of air conditioner intensity
2000 = 1
Index of air conditioner utilization time
2000 = 1
Ownership of refrigerator
per 100 HH
Average space of refrigerator
Efficiency of refrigerator
Ownership of washing machine
per 100 HH
Times to use washing machine per week
Ownership of TV
per 100 HH
Average capacity of TV
Hours per TV per day
Penetration rate of CFL
Ownership of water heater
per 100 HH
Ownership of solar heater
per 100 HH
Ownership of electric cooking
per 100 HH
Hours per day of electric cooking
Capacity of other electric appliance
Hours of other electric appliance
Vehicle fleet (10,000 units)
Large passenger coach
Small passenger coach
Traffic turnover volume (billion passenger-km/billiontonne-km)
Passenger in road transport
Passenger in rail transport
Passenger in air transport
Passenger in water transport
Freight in road transport
Freight in rail transport
Freight in air transport
Freight in air transport
Freight in pipeline transport
Roadmap for electric vehicle development technology in China
The amount of electric vehicle (10,000)
Sale quantity of electric vehicle market per year (10,000)
Cruising range (km)
Power consumption measuring on 100 km
Battery energy density (Wh/kg, Wh/L)
150 Wh/kg; 150 Wh/L
225 Wh/kg; 200 Wh/L
500 Wh/kg; 460 Wh/L
Total battery energy
Battery pack lifespan
Battery cost (Yuan/kWh)
From the analysis above, we can get the traffic turnover scenario, which is shown in Table 6.
4 Scenario results
The energy scenario and emission scenario were analysed based on the previous studies for 2 °C scenario for China. The results are defined in the following below.
4.1 Energy scenario
Another important aspect is energy conservation in China. From the “9th Five-Year Plan” (2006–2010), very strong policies on energy conservation were adopted in multiply level in China, from central government to local government, sector, and industries. And the achievement is significant (Jiang et al. 2010).
As shown in Fig. 6, the final energy demand in China will keep on increasing slowly until 2025 or 2030 and then start to decrease. Besides the factors discussed above, much higher electrification in end-use sectors is another key factor to lower final energy demand. Share of electricity in final energy demand increases from 22.6 in 2015 to 43.9% in 2050 in 2 °C scenario and 62.8% in 2050 in 1.5 °C scenario. Electricity use is much highly efficient than fossil fuels in transport, cooking, space heating, etc. Final energy demand by sectors shows that energy demand in industry will take large share in 2050, with not much shape changed from 2020 up to 2050. This mainly due to electrification in other end-use sectors including building and transport sectors, while there is still fossil fuel used in industry, and CCS has to be adopted in some energy-intensive sectors such as steel making, and cement sector.
4.2 Emission scenarios
From this study, based on the observations and deductions in both scenarios, air pollutant emissions are reduced significantly, which will benefit both climate change target and local air pollution targets. Energy transition towards much less fossil fuel use by 2050, strong co-benefit effects could be observed from these scenarios results. There is still lack of studies on air quality target by 2050, but it is expected that air quality could reach WHO’s standard; in this case, emissions of air pollutant have to be drastically reduced to the very lowest level. Moreover, there is a strong demand on energy transition to be much less fossil fuel use. This quite matches with the 1.5 °C scenario results.
Funding was provided by National Key Basic R&D Plan (CN) (Grant No. 2014CB441301), National Key R&D Plan (Grant No. 2016YFC0207503).
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