China has urged an end to aggressive activities for carbon reduction that have swept across the country since the announcement of last year's goal for China to achieve peak carbon emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2060.

In a meeting last Friday, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, China’s paramount decision-making body, called for putting an end to what it described as "whirlwind campaigns" for carbon reduction.

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The meeting set out a carbon emission reduction methodology it dubbed "construction before destruction", meaning China should establish an energy structure based on low carbon solutions before demolishing the current carbon intensive energy scheme.

The meeting also placed urgency on the need for an action plan for the nation to achieve peak carbon emissions by 2030, with measures needed to curb the development of projects with high levels of emissions and energy consumption.

Xie Zhenhua, China's special adviser for climate change affairs, said last week that China had set up a work group geared towards reaching China's emission peak and carbon neutrality goals.

He said the work group was still working on the schedule and road map towards net zero and will soon announce what he calls the 1+N policy, which outlines energy transition schemes in 10 categories.

Local government plans 'half baked'

The rhetoric comes as local authorities in China are rushing to map out their own initiatives to curb carbon emissions, which the Politburo has described as “pell-mell", or in other words mingled with confusion or disorder.

Qi Ye, a professor at the Public Management Institute of Qinghua University, said that while local governments are responsive to the government's call for carbon reduction, some have gone to extremes by launching campaigns to implement what he claimed were unrealistic schemes, such as establishing zero emission communities.

He said that while the central government is still scratching its head over the nation-wide action plan to reach net zero emissions, local governments, enterprises and research institutes have announced their own. “Some of these plans are half-baked,” he said.

Qi said that some local authorities had applied the "destruction before construction" approach in their efforts to cut emissions, leading some to demolish coal-based power plants before renewable energy-fired plants take shape.

“The result is some regions have suffered power supply crunches,” he said.

Lin Boqiang, the director of China Energy Research Institute of Xiamen University, said that projects with high levels of emissions and energy consumption, such as iron and steel fabrication and cement production, account for 22% of China’s power demand.

In May this year, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment ruled that the projects with high emission and energy intensity will come under strict environmental assessment appraisal.

The latest regulation has forced some energy intensive coal-to-liquid project developers to cancel their projects. One such project that stopped construction in early July is a coal-to-chemical plant sponsored by Shaanxi Coal Group in Yulin city of northern China’s Shaanxi province.