How far is carbon neutrality from us

To achieve the "carbon peak by 2030" and "carbon neutrality by 2060" as scheduled... Since my country made its commitment at the 75th United Nations General Assembly in September last year, a broad and profound economic and social systemic transformation has taken place. The energy sector kicked off. Under the current conditions of “rich coal, lean oil, and less gas” in my country, speed up the low-carbon transition of the energy system, and in particular, greatly increase the proportion of renewable energy in the future energy structure. And the "hard bones" that the target must gnaw down.

Recently, the reporter interviewed Chao Qingchen, deputy director of the National Climate Center, Gao Yun, deputy dean of the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, and Shen Yanbo, a senior research engineer at the Public Meteorological Service Center of the China Meteorological Administration, on topics related to carbon neutrality.

Extreme weather such as extremely cold weather, high temperature and heat waves are taking place in turns around the world, posing serious threats. In mid-March of this year, affected by the Mongolian cyclone and strong winds, the strongest sandstorm in the past decade swept through most cities in northern my country and many East Asian countries. Sand and floating dust caused PM10 to "explode" in many places.
Ant Group aims to become carbon neutral by 2030. (Photo: Business Wire

Is global warming still going on? What impact will it bring to our lives?

Gao Yun: Observational data show that the global climate has experienced a significant change characterized by climate warming in the past 100 years. In order to explore the causes and effects of global warming, since the 1980s, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has organized global scientists to conduct research on climate change and its effects based on research results published worldwide. Systematic assessment. Five reports have been issued so far, basically confirming that human activities are the main cause of current climate warming.

Human activities mainly refer to greenhouse gas emissions in the process of burning fossil fuels and biomass, as well as changes in land cover caused by land use such as urbanization. Due to the inertia of the climate system, even if greenhouse gas emissions are stopped immediately, the trend of global warming will continue to a certain extent. The challenge we are now facing is how to control the global warming process as soon as possible.

Chao Qingchen: Global warming will cause slow-onset ocean disasters, ocean acidification, sea level rise, glacier melting, etc., triggering marine ecological security challenges; as the temperature continues to rise, the evaporation of crops increases, making different crops Changes in the growth cycle of agriculture and changes in agricultural layout and structure affect agricultural output; the increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will cause the land to heat up faster in winter, and the temperature gradient between sea and land will decrease, increasing the frequency and frequency of severe haze events in winter. The duration has resulted in an increase in quiet and stable weather in eastern China; global warming has caused structural changes in water resources and ecosystems, affecting water volume and quality, and even species diversity; climate instability has also caused major changes in the distribution pattern of diseases in the world …The impact of global warming on daily life has been exposed and will continue to intensify in the future.

Climate change has become a major global challenge facing human society today. my country is the country with the most typical monsoon climate in the world, with high climate variability, severe weather disasters, and complex climate risks. The impact of climate change is stronger and faster than expected. Global warming has led to greater instability of the climate system. Extreme weather and climate events are showing a trend of increasing frequency, wider range and longer duration. In the face of all kinds of sudden meteorological disasters, the open complex system of cities often shows great vulnerability, which has gradually become a bottleneck restricting human survival and sustainable development. Improving the climate resilience of society is the most realistic and urgent. Task.

my country is committed to achieving "carbon neutrality" by 2060, the United States has proposed to achieve "net zero emissions" by 2050, and the European Union even submitted the "European Climate Law" to ensure that Europe will become the first "climate" by 2050 from a legal perspective. "Neutral" continent... In order to actively respond to global climate change, countries have started the process of moving towards the goal of carbon neutrality.

What does the proposal of carbon neutrality mean? How is this goal considered?

Gao Yun: The Fifth Assessment Report released by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2014 pointed out that the cumulative emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have a roughly quasi-linear relationship with temperature rise, so the most direct and effective measure to mitigate climate change It is through reducing the use of fossil energy and increasing carbon sinks to control the emission of man-made greenhouse gases and reduce the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Comprehensive studies believe that once the global average temperature rises above the threshold of 2°C in the future, human life may face greater danger. Achieving the goal of carbon peak and carbon neutrality means that my country needs to work hard to support the sustainable development of the economy and society with more efficient resource and energy management, and to make positive contributions to the control of global climate risks. This is in line with my country's goal of promoting ecological civilization construction. Consistency and policy cohesion are urgent needs for actively responding to climate change.

Scientists carry out monitoring and evaluation around national strategic needs from the perspective of climate change science, and contribute to my country's response to climate change and the realization of carbon neutrality goals.

Chao Qingchen: my country’s goal of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality is the inherent requirement for achieving sustainable development. It is an important starting point for strengthening the construction of ecological civilization and achieving the goal of a beautiful China. It is also my country’s responsibility as a major country to fulfill its international responsibilities and promote construction. The responsibility of a community with a shared future for mankind.

On the one hand, the nature of addressing climate change is consistent with my country’s development path. Low-carbon development will promote a fundamental improvement in the quality of my country’s ecological environment; on the other hand, achieving carbon peak and carbon neutrality is also the core of current global competition. Behind carbon neutrality is the competition between technology and economy. This will lead the research and development of a new generation of technologies in various countries, and the world will enter an era of technological transformation in the fields of energy, industry, transportation, and construction for some time to come. Carbon neutrality will be a period of opportunity for the development of key global core technologies and strategies, and we must seize this opportunity.

The National Energy Administration proposes that by the end of the "14th Five-Year Plan" period, the proportion of renewable energy power generation capacity in my country's total power generation capacity will exceed 50%. Renewable energy will change from the original incremental supplementary status of energy and power consumption to the main body of incremental power. To achieve the goal of carbon neutrality, my country's energy system needs a rapid transformation, especially to greatly increase the proportion of renewable energy in the future energy structure.

What opportunities and challenges do we face to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality? How will renewable energy help achieve this goal?

Chao Qingchen: As the world's largest developing country, my country is still facing very severe challenges in achieving the goal of carbon neutrality by 2060.

In terms of total emissions, my country’s total carbon emissions are huge, and the amount of carbon emissions required to achieve carbon neutrality is much higher than that of other economies.

From the perspective of development stage, European and American countries have matured economic development and have achieved an absolute decoupling of economic development from carbon emissions, and carbon emissions have entered a stable decline channel. However, the problem of unbalanced and inadequate development in my country is still prominent, the energy demand for development is increasing, and carbon emissions have not yet reached the peak. There is a long way to go to coordinate social and economic development, economic structural transformation, and energy low-carbon transformation.

From the perspective of the development trend of carbon emissions, the window period for some countries in Europe and America from peaking carbon to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 is as short as more than 40 years, as long as 60 to 70 years, or even longer. However, the time span for my country from the peak of carbon emissions before 2030 to achieving carbon neutrality before 2060 is only about 30 years, and the effort and rate it has to make is far greater than those of these European and American countries.

From the perspective of key industries and fields, my country's energy structure is dominated by coal. In 2019, coal consumption accounted for 57.7% of total energy consumption, and non-fossil energy accounted for 15.3%. The energy system must quickly phase out 85% of fossil energy sources in just 30 years to achieve zero carbon emissions. This is not a simple transformation that can be achieved by energy conservation and emission reduction, but a real energy revolution.

Shen Yanbo: Although my country’s installed wind power capacity has been 11 years in a row, and photovoltaic power generation capacity has ranked first in the world for 6 years, our utilization efficiency of wind and solar resources is not high enough. Take wind power as an example. my country’s installed wind power capacity is twice that of the United States, but the annual utilization hours were only 50% of that of the United States in 2015, and close to 70% in 2019. There is still a big gap. Photovoltaic power generation also has similar problems. my country’s solar energy resources The annual total is more than 30% higher than that of Germany, but the annual utilization hours of photovoltaic power generation was nearly 100 hours lower than that of Germany in 2015. Although it exceeded Germany by about 17% in 2019, it still does not fully reflect my country's resource advantages.

Under the leadership of the carbon peak and carbon neutral goals, the renewable energy industry has ushered in historic development opportunities, and it has also put forward new tests on the grid-connected consumption capacity and planning layout of renewable energy. Wind power, photovoltaics, hydropower and other power generation methods are all affected by geographical and natural resources, and it is currently difficult to adapt to the grid's need for continuous and stable large-scale power generation. Therefore, while expanding the power grid's absorption capacity, it is necessary to promote scientific and technological innovation to improve the carrying capacity of the grid and reduce the phenomenon of "abandoning wind and light".

Some data point out that the world is facing a "climate emergency". United Nations Secretary-General Gurest once said frankly that if no changes are made, the temperature increase could reach a catastrophic 3°C or more in this century. The fundamental reason for the carbon neutral target is to deal with the ever-increasing global climate change.

Which regions in my country may be the first to achieve carbon peaks? To achieve the goal of carbon neutrality, how can we make efforts in the future?

Shen Yanbo: Whether it can take the lead to reach the peak depends on the resource endowment, industrial structure and development path of each region. At this stage, the eastern region of my country has a relatively developed socio-economic level and strong local absorption capacity. In recent years, the scale of new energy development has increased significantly, and it has the advantage of being the first to reach the peak. The western region is rich in hydropower, wind power, solar energy, and geothermal energy. Renewable energy resources. Carbon peaking and carbon neutrality is a long-term task. All regions should base themselves on their local advantages and actively explore carbon reduction development paths and countermeasures suitable for local conditions. It should be noted that climate resources are characterized by volatility, and efforts must be made to make use of the complementary and grid-connected power generation of multiple energy sources, such as the cooperation of wind and solar power, hydropower and thermal power. Among them, whether the meteorological department can provide accurate forecasting services is the key.

Therefore, to build a new power system with new energy as the main body, at least four aspects of weather services must be provided. One is how to plan the layout scientifically. The development potential of climate resources is huge, but which places can be developed first and which places are second. Only through reasonable planning can the resources be maximized.

The second is to answer the question of how to build. The site selection and construction of large-scale wind farms and photovoltaic power stations are "birth-determined for life", and it is difficult to adjust once they are completed. Therefore, it is necessary to fully consider the resource characteristics of different places in the aspects of micro-site selection and key parameter design.

The third is to do a good job of forecasting wind power and photovoltaic power generation, improve the risk assessment of extreme weather and climate events for the safe operation of the power system, rationally arrange operation methods and countermeasures, and improve the safety and reliability of power grid operation.

The fourth is to establish a climate, ecological and environmental effect evaluation system for large-scale wind and solar development to provide a basis for new energy development decisions.

Chao Qingchen: In response to climate change, emission reduction is as important as adaptation. We must take carbon reduction as the source of governance, coordinate the control of greenhouse gas and pollutant emissions, and coordinate the advancement of adaptation to climate change and ecological protection and restoration, and support the in-depth fight against pollution prevention and the peaking of carbon dioxide emissions, and strengthen each The construction of climate resilience in fields and regions. During the "14th Five-Year Plan" period, it is even more necessary to put forward directional strategic arrangements for technology research and development in various fields under the carbon neutral goal, and guide the whole society to make corresponding changes. At the same time, it will study and formulate a more detailed carbon peaking action plan, accelerate the construction of the national carbon market, actively participate in global climate governance, and mobilize the whole society to turn the beautiful blueprint of carbon peaking and carbon neutrality into a beautiful reality.

In addition, the new power system is a power system dependent on meteorological and climate resources. To vigorously improve the level and efficiency of renewable energy utilization, it is necessary to quickly and accurately find out the status of my country's wind and solar resources. On the basis of resource assessment, make full use of the time and space complementarity of wind energy and solar energy resources to reduce the intermittency and volatility of wind power and photovoltaic power generation, thereby improving the grid-friendliness of wind power and photovoltaic power generation, promoting new energy consumption, and increasing renewable energy Energy efficiency.

Gao Yun: The Meteorological Department has been building a global atmospheric background station for greenhouse gases since the 1990s, and conducting continuous observation and sampling and analysis. It has a sound monitoring, analysis and research foundation for atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration monitoring. In January of this year, the China Meteorological Administration launched the greenhouse gas and carbon neutral monitoring and evaluation center. In the future, we will give full play to our sectoral advantages and focus on the need for green, low-carbon, high-quality development and climate change. We will unite with outstanding scientists at home and abroad to carry out monitoring and evaluation on national strategic needs from the perspective of climate change science, so as to help my country respond to climate change and achieve carbon Contribute to the peak and carbon neutral goals.

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