China pushes technical solutions in race to meet climate goals

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: Smoke is seen from a cooling tower of a China Energy ultra-low emission coal-fired power plant during a media tour, in Sanhe

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China will promote large-scale carbon capture projects and track methane emissions from coal and oil and gas extraction, as part of its contribution to global efforts to limit temperature rises, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

President Xi Jinping promised last year that China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, would bring emissions to a peak before 2030 and become "carbon neutral" by 2060.

In new policy guidelines, China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) vowed to make climate action a performance indicator for government officials.

It also said controlling carbon emissions would be at the heart of a coordinated programme to protect and restore the country's environment, which has been damaged by decades of breakneck industrial growth.

Since Xi disclosed China's carbon neutrality goal to the United Nations in September last year, scholars at home and abroad have said China would need to deploy technologies that capture greenhouse gas released during the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels.

Senior officials have also backed "nature-based solutions" aimed at tackling the causes of climate change, including reforestration and wetland restoration programmes.

In the new guidelines, the MEE said it would promote the construction of large-scale carbon capture, utilisation and storage demonstration projects. China has several carbon capture projects in operation, but none has been economically viable.

The MEE also said it would deploy advanced satellite technology to track land use changes, another major cause of greenhouse gas emissions, and encourage industries such as steel, power generation and chemicals to formulate their own plans to bring emissions to a peak.

As China gets closer to launching the first phase of its repeatedly delayed nationwide emissions trading scheme, the MEE also vowed to make full use of market mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

(Reporting by David Stanway; editing by Barbara Lewis)