China will start considering carbon emissions as part of environmental impact assessments, as the world's largest greenhouse gas producer aims to reconcile development with ambitious climate goals.
New guidelines from the environment ministry state that assessments of new construction projects must factor in the amount of planet-warming carbon dioxide they will emit once completed.
They also order local and provincial governments to use the guidelines to review projects that are considered energy- or emissions-intensive, particularly in the sectors of thermal power, petrochemicals, chemical engineering, steel, building materials and nonferrous smelting.
China is rethinking its approach to economic development in light of the bold climate pledges it made last year. Beijing has committed to bringing carbon emissions to a peak by 2030 and reducing them to net-zero by 2060.
Local authorities should conduct strict approval processes for new construction projects to make sure they meet pollution and carbon emissions requirements as well as other relevant standards, the guidelines say.
They also direct authorities to analyze plans for potential emissions reduction when assessing the environmental impacts of industrial parks in order to promote low-carbon development.
Power-hungry, high-emissions projects in some parts of China have hindered regional environmental initiatives and the realization that carbon emissions should be capped, the ministry said in a statement on its website.
The move comes after an official in the ministry's climate change department said Monday that China plans to draw up annual budgets for carbon dioxide emissions over the next five years to ensure it meets the 2030 target.
Last week, China's highly developed Jiangsu Province began real-time tracking of carbon emissions from its power sector. Previously, emissions from electricity companies were mainly calculated by measuring coal consumption, a less precise method.
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