Predicting China's peak carbon emissions and compliance costs

China to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030

China announced its intent to peak carbon dioxide emissions around 2030 in the China-U.S. Climate Agreement in late 2014. China also submitted carbon-curbing plan to the UN ahead of the Paris climate change summit in 2015 and pledged to work hard to peak emissions earlier than the 2030 target.

China’s pledge is expected to give an important boost to efforts to reach a global deal on mitigating carbon emissions beyond 2020. In addition, it’s believed the figures announced in the plan are floor figures and China is capable of over-achieving.

The scientific support for predicting the timing and magnitude of peak emissions and quantifying the compliance costs under a different regulatory environment in China is still weak. A sound understanding is important and has significant implications. First, understanding the compliance cost under different mitigation targets and levels of regulatory stringency is needed by Chinese governors to decide how hard China will strive to curb emissions and peak earlier (and at what levels).

This in turn will contribute to the global greenhouse gas mitigation efforts as the current pledges have been submitted by the major emitters (European Union, China, US) are not sufficient to keep global temperatures rises below the internationally agreed target of 2C. An earlier and deeper cut will surely move us closer to that target.

Tasks involved in the project include:

  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of the peak emission literature.
  • Collect social, economic, political, regulatory data at national or international levels.
  • Develop an econometric model to predict peak emissions using provincial or cross-national data.
  • Model how various environmental regulations will influence the timing and magnitude of peak emissions.
  • Estimate compliance costs of different mitigation targets under various regulatory settings.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

Suggested readings

Research team leader: Associate Professor Chunbo Ma

I am an Associate Professor at the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment. I was trained as an energy and ecological economist and have broad research interests in the fields of energy, environmental, resource, ecological and agricultural economics.

How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project include:

  • Good knowledge in energy economics and climate change
  • Strong quantitative/econometric modelling techniques
  • Strong computer skills (coding/simulation)

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


Scholarships specific to this project

A top-up scholarship of $5000 per year for three years (plus operating funds) is available from the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment. This scholarship will be offered to a sufficiently strong candidate. Discuss with Professor David Pannell.

Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Prestigious postgraduate research scholarships

Prestigious postgraduate research scholarships support graduate research training by enabling students of exceptional research promise to undertake higher degrees by research at the University.