China: Climate Progress Report

China: Climate Progress Report


  • Energy Output of Coal (monthly, quarterly, and annually)
  • Renewable Energy Output (monthly, quarterly, and annually)
  • Air and Water Quality Data (Daily)
  • Gross Ecological Product (measurement still in process)

Energy security while transitioning to low-carbon energy provision continues to be the number one priority of the Chinese government. The most recently released “Opinions on Improving Institutional Mechanisms and Policies for Green and Low-carbon Energy Transformation” are an attempt at forming a coherent set of policies which all provinces and authorities are expected to adhere to.  It will be interesting to see whether the new mechanisms can accelerate the rate of renewable energy growth versus the reduction on the reliance of coal in generating energy. One potential and publicly available indicator to watch is the energy output based on coal and renewables.

China has set itself a goal to lower the use of coal in energy generation. However, with recent energy insecurities that left households in the North literally out in the cold, China’s government reverted to coal again, to ensure human households keep warm and industry keeps producing. The National Bureau of Statistics published monthly, quarterly and annual data on energy output of coal. Similarly, it publishes energy output by renewable energy such as wind and solar energy. What appears not to be made easily available for public scrutiny are is a consolidated, centralized overview of GHG emission development data from various sectors.

Publicly available are in addition data on air or water quality. The Ministry of Ecology and Environment publishes on their website hourly and daily monitoring data for air (AQI) and water quality. Available are air quality index (AQI) data for a broad number of cities across China, these include beyond China’s most prominent cities Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou such locations as Wuhan – a commercial hub in China’s center; Changchun – a hub for the automotive industry; Chengdu and Chongqing – two important commercial gates to the southwest and west.


Indicator City Value Critical substance March 1
AQI Chengdu 78 Ok, pm2.5
  Chongqing 77 Ok, pm2.5
  Wuhan 83 Ok, pm2.5, NO2
  Hefei 78 Ok, pm10
  Changchun 45 Good
  Shenyang 67 Ok, pm2.5
  Nanjing 80 Ok, O3
  Wuxi 74 Ok, pm10
Accumulated output of Coal (in 10.000 tons)

Accumulated Growth rate in %

374552.5 +4.2% Dec. 2019
384374.1 +0.9% Dec. 2020
407136.0 +4.7% Dec. 2021

Output of Wind Power, Accumulated (100 million kwh)

Output of Wind Power, Accumulated Growth Rate (%)

3577.4 + 7.0% Dec. 2019
4146.0 +10.5 Dec 2020
5667.0 +29.8 Dec. 2021

Output of Solar Power, Accumulated (100 million kwh) Output of Solar Power, Accumulated Growth Rate (%)

1172.2 +13.3 Dec. 2019
1421.0 +8.5 Dec 2020
1836.6 +14.1 Dec. 2021


Such data of the National Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment can be traced on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis.

Beyond these official sources, monthly or quarterly data appears to be difficult to obtain for international civil society monitoring. The MEE offers a service for data provision on request. The service is available in Chinese and appears only available to Chinese holding the respective ID number.

Most recently, China has begun to charter new territory in measuring progress of climate and environmental efforts. The government has since the beginning of 2022 released documents (still partly under development) to quantify ecological systems products and services in economic or monetary terms and is striving to develop a measuring system for economic development that goes beyond the traditional GDP indicators. The Gross Ecological Product (GEP) calculation guideline attempt to identify and quantify in economic terms the value of services and products from any ecological systems in support of human life. The Gross Economic and Ecological Product (GEEP) guideline calculates economic development based on traditional GDP indicators minus the costs of ecological degradation, against replacement costs, against the damages from extreme weather events, while also considering GEP values from ecological products and services.

Possible indicators for monitoring and measuring of GEP have been defined in three categories:

  • Material product supply such as the amount of wood, resin, vegetable, grain, meat, fish, eggs, biogas, straw, fuel wood, hydro energy derived from nature as valued by their market price.
  • Ecological regulation services, for example the volume of oxygen released through natural “regulation” like photosynthesis, or the amount of CO2 being sequestered in such carbon sinks as forests.
  • Cultural services as tracked through the number of travellers and the recreational value of natural area based on market price to access the area.

The GEEP, in addition, strives to benchmark the ecological indicators with economic activity. Measurable KPIs may include the number of Environmental Impact Assessments for new construction projects, environmental management registration certificates for new chemical substances, number of approvals for transboundary waste import and export, disposal, etc.

And finally, media reports recently announced that China has put in force new environmental disclosure rules on February 8. The new rule requires the respective authorities to collate and report all production companies in the authority’s area of responsibility and to ensure that the included companies provide environmental information, including data on environmental management, liability insurance, production goods as well as major pollutant and overall carbon dioxide emissions, to the public on an annual basis. Companies that do not disclose data properly face the risk of fines up to 100,000 yuan ($15,785).

Given all these efforts to transition from a purely economic measuring system to a broader development definition it would be desirable to have one central place to make progress on these indicators accessible, not only for an interested Chinese public, but also for international civil society organizations. Open and transparent reporting on the progress and possible setbacks would make China’s efforts to transition to a low-carbon development system more credible and further cement China’s claim to climate leadership.


This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager: Annette Wiedenbach



Learn More Sources:

China Green Bulletin: China’s roadmap for turning its power sector green, Caixin Global, February 18, 2022


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