IEA Executive Director and China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change discuss global efforts to reach net-zero emissions

IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol held a wide-ranging and detailed discussion today with China’s Special Envoy on Climate Change Xie Zhenhua during which they addressed major energy and climate issues, including the findings of the IEA’s recent Global Roadmap to Net Zero by 2050.

As one of the main architects of the Paris Agreement, Mr Xie is now playing a key role in China’s engagement with other leading economies such as the United States and the European Union in the lead-up to the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November. China has said it aims to achieve a peak in emissions before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060.

Mr Xie congratulated the IEA on its significant contributions to global energy and climate discussions, in particular through the Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap, which was released globally on 18 May. The findings of the report were subsequently presented to senior Chinese policy makers and a large online audience in China at a special event on 8 June. Mr Xie highlighted that the report has many practical recommendations for policy makers that are in line with the spirit of the Paris Agreement. 

Mr Xie also commended the insights of the IEA’s recent special report on Financing Clean Energy Transitions in Emerging and Developing Economies. He and Dr Birol agreed there is an important role for international financial institutions and other relevant organisations in helping mobilise and channel the capital flows needed to fund clean energy transitions in the developing world. 

Dr Birol and Mr Xie discussed the need for governments to provide the right incentives to create an inclusive energy transition in which countries can play to their strengths and give the right signals to investors. The whole of society will need to play a role in realising net zero goals, they agreed. 

They both stressed the strong need for greater international collaboration and global sharing of best practices in order to accelerate clean energy transitions. Mr Xie said that the IEA has an important role in helping the world to realise the Paris Agreement goals. The IEA’s technical cooperation and inputs with China on important areas like emissions trading, transition pathways, energy efficiency, energy data and expansion and integration of renewables were highly regarded and appreciated, he said.

Mr Xie outlined how China is taking new initiatives and making new investments, not just in renewable energy, but also in areas such as transport, infrastructure, hydrogen and industrial sectors with the aim of developing a low-carbon, circular economy. China’s carbon emissions trading system will start its first national trades in the coming weeks.