China Daily:China energy plan 'could achieve zero emissions by 2050'

Report to UN climate change conference highlights benefits of Global Energy Interconnection system

The world could realize net zero carbon emissions in the energy sector by the middle of the century if it builds a global grid of green energy sources, according to a report unveiled at the United Nations climate change conference.

The Research Report on Global Energy Interconnection for Addressing Climate Change, suggests that the massive exploitation and utilization of fossil fuels is the root cause of climate change.

From 1970 to 2018, fossil fuels caused 1.1 trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for more than 70 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. The fundamental way to address climate change is to accelerate the development of clean energy and “decarbonization” of the energy system, it says.

The report also provides a potential solution to address the problem via Global Energy Interconnection.

Proposed by China in 2015, GEI is a globally interconnected smart grid with a ultrahigh voltage grid as the backbone, which could serve as a platform for development, deployment and utilization of clean energy worldwide.

Using respected modeling and data, and taking into account activity on various continents, the report simulates emissions under the GEI. It says the GEI can achieve the Paris Agreement target of keeping the rise in global temperatures to below 2 C this century, with the aim of limiting it even further to 1.5 C.

The report also evaluates the benefits to the economy, society, climate, environment and health resulting from the reductions.

According to the report, by 2050 investments in the GEI to achieve the 2 C scenario would total $78 trillion. Under the 1.5 C scenario, it would be $92 trillion. Both are less expensive than other climate reduction scenarios.

“This will effectively reduce the cost of global emission reduction, protect the right to development of all countries, and achieve economic development and carbon emission reduction at the same time,” it said.

Under the 1.5 C scenario, carbon dioxide emissions will reach a peak before 2025, but by 2050 net zero carbon emissions can be achieved. This would in turn promote the rapid development of clean energy and grid interconnection, according to the report.

The report was authored by the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO), the World Meteorological Organization and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

GEIDCO chairman Liu Zhenya said the GEI system maximizes the efficiency of clean energy production while minimizing the cost. It also greatly increases returns from investing in clean energy.

“It is estimated that the GEI can have a comprehensive benefit of $9 for every $1 invested between 2020 and 2050, which has a significant advantage,” Liu added.