Last week the United States and China announced an historic agreement on climate. China has committed to generating 20 percent of its energy from non-fossil fuel electricity including nuclear, hydro, solar, biomass, and wind by 2030. Much commentary has explored whether or not China’s commitment is ambitious enough, but virtually none of the reactions have focused on how China might actually achieve its targets.
First, the Chinese government should be praised for its target of 20 percent non-fossil energy by 2030. It is notable that the United States lacks any similar national-scale commitment. The recently-announced 20 percent target is on top of China’s existing target of 15 percent renewable energy generation by 2020, as well as the nation’s individual capacity targets for solar (50 gigawatts), wind (200 gigawatts), biomass (30 gigawatts), and hydropower (300 gigawatts). Though it may seem the 2030 target is not ambitious enough given China’s current activities, it is nevertheless important to think about what it will require to meet this target on the ground.
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