Guidelines on emissions released

Updated: Dec 16, 2022 By HOU LIQIANG China Daily Print
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A file photo shows a wind power plant in Zhangjiakou, North China's Hebei province. [Photo/Xinhua]

China has included greenhouse gas emissions into the environmental impact assessments for several major smokestack industries, according to guidelines unveiled on Wednesday by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

The documents were introduced to guide environmental authorities across the country in examining and approving EIA reports for new projects in the steel, coking, petrochemical, coal-chemical and thermal power sectors.

China aims to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and go carbon neutral before 2060. As the country's major carbon dioxide emitters, these industries are essential to the realization of the ambitious climate targets.

Thermal power stations across the country, most of which are coal-fired, for example, contribute half of the country's carbon dioxide emissions, and the steel industry 15 percent, according to research by various institutions.

As an overall requirement, all new projects in smokestack sectors should be in line with the carbon neutrality targets of different regions and sectors, the guideline stressed. They are also subject to the restrictions of the upper regional and sectoral limits for coal consumption.

Aside from accounting for greenhouse gas emissions, EIA reports for the sectors should also include measures to synergize the reduction of pollution and carbon emissions and promote the demonstration and application of technologies for carbon reduction.

Carbon capture, utilization and storage, and the use of hydrogen as an alternative energy, are two of the major concerns in the specific examination and approval tenets for EIA in different industries.

For example, in the coal chemical industry, regions and businesses will be encouraged to introduce demonstration projects to capture, use and store carbon dioxide in key production procedures with high concentrations of the heat-trapping gas, where conditions permit.

New petrochemical projects will be urged to make hydrogen with renewable energies, such as wind and solar power.

The publication of the guideline is "a response to urgent needs of the new conditions of the era", according to a media release from the ministry's department of environmental impact assessment and emission management.

In its move to promote national climate targets, the ministry is advancing its work to include greenhouse gas emissions in environmental impact assessment in a steady fashion, it said, adding that a series of pilot programs have been rolled out.

This is not the first time the ministry has issued EIA guidelines concerning greenhouse gases.

In late 2020, for instance, it released a notification on enhancing EIA management for coal mining projects. The document made it compulsory for coal mines that are sources of significant amounts of methane — a greenhouse gas that is estimated to be over 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in trapping heat over a 20-year time scale — to collect the gas for use.

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