The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has precipitated the most severe global recession since the 1930s. On October 7, the International Monetary Fund projected that the global economy could contract by 4.4 percent year-over-year (YOY) in 2020. Though China witnessed the first ever economic contraction in more than four decades during the first quarter (Q1) of 2020, a subsequent speedy recovery is set to make China the only major economy to grow this year — a 2.0 percent increase relative to 2019, according to Agora’s most recent estimate. This is a 0.3 percentage point lower than in the previous issue of this COVID-19 impact analysis.
The European Union’s December 2019 pledge to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 briefly put Europe at the forefront of climate action. But in September 2020, China announces a carbon neutrality agenda for 2060. Since then, Japan, South Korea, and Canada have rolled out climate neutrality pledges for 2050. The USA is expected to follow soon after President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated in January 2021.
China’s ambitious plan will help move the climate agenda forward in developed and developing country blocs. In addition, China’s unique status as the first hybrid superpower in the modern era means that Beijing can play an important bridging role between the blocs, especially when it comes to “common but differentiated responsibilities.”
Agora Energiewende’s COVID-19 China Energy Impact Tracker provides quarterly updates on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected China’s energy sector, from energy supply and consumption to carbon emissions and other key indicators. It also features a series of reports to better inform the international community and Chinese audiences alike about COVID-19’s effects on the Chinese energy economy.