China low-carbon fuel regulation needed 'no later than 2030'

Photo: Ningbo - Zhoushan ningbo-zhoushan port 07.jpg
Emissions from China’s domestic coastal shipping fleet could drop by 83% by 2060 if the right regulatory steps are taken, according to a report.

An International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) working paper took an initial look at the China’s coastal trade and found that pathways aligned with a 2°C rise in temperatures and 1.5°C rise would require a 44% and 83% drop in CO2 emissions by 2060, respectively.

Using 2019 emissions and activities as a baseline for the report, authors Xiaoli Mao and Zhihang Meng projected forwards for a 2°C, 1.5°C and business as usual future.

The policy actions considered were split between improved energy efficiency and cutting carbon intensity of shipping through low-carbon fuels. For both action scenarios, the carbon intensity policies were projected on two different schedules.

If policies remain unchanged, the authors forecast China’s domestic coastal shipping sector will produce of 162m tonnes of CO2 emissions, more than triple the 45m tonnes emitted in 2019.

“With the help of mandatory energy efficiency standards as well as low-carbon fuel regulations, CO2 emissions from China’s domestic coastal shipping could peak by 2040 and fall significantly by 2060,” said the report.

The first of two pathways outlined in the report combined mandatory energy efficiency standards which ratchet up every five years from 2025 to 2045, and a slow phase in of low carbon fuel rules from 2030. With such measures, CO2 emissions could peak by 2040 and drop by 56% from 2019 levels by 2060. That would bring the sector in-line with a 2°C-target and drop carbon intensity by 79%.

With more stringent mandatory energy efficiency standards between 2025 and 2045, and a five-year head start on low-carbon fuel regulations from 2025, the CO2 emissions peak could be brought forward by 2035; by 2060 emissions would be 83% lower than in 2019, aligned with the 1.5°C-target and reducing carbon intensity by 92% from 2019 levels.

“It is essential that low-carbon fuel regulations be implemented no later than 2030. If delayed until 2046 after expiration of mandatory energy efficiency standards, the required rate of fuel carbon intensity reduction would be dauntingly high for the industry,” said the report.

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