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IEA chief optimistic about China’s clean energy transition

International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Fatih Birol speaks at the IEA- OPEC dialogue session during the 22nd World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, on July 12, 2017. (OZAN KOSE / AFP)

PARIS – A top international energy official has expressed optimism for China's clean energy transition that will bring social and economic benefits and contribute to the world's efforts to limit global warming.

"The decisions that China takes to tackle the climate change will have impact not only for China, but for the entire world," said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), in an interview with Xinhua after a new IEA report was released Wednesday.

The report, which is titled "An Energy Sector Roadmap to Carbon Neutrality in China," explores how China can reach its objectives while ensuring energy security and affordability for its citizens, according to an IEA press release.

The decisions that China takes to tackle the climate change will have impact not only for China, but for the entire world.Fatih Birol, Executive director, International Energy Agency

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"This Roadmap shows what is possible: China has a clear pathway to build a more sustainable, secure and inclusive energy future," Birol said in the release.

"China is a clean energy powerhouse and has played a leading role in many of the world's success stories to date, from solar power to electric vehicles," he said.

The energy sector is one major source of China's greenhouse gas emissions, which has put energy policies at the heart of the country's transition to carbon neutrality, as China aims to peak its CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, according to the release.

The aim will "have huge changes" in the Chinese energy market, namely a big decline of fossil fuels and strong growth of clean energy technologies, Birol told Xinhua.

"The recent announcements from Chinese authorities are very welcome," the IEA chief said in the interview, highlighting China's latest pledge not to build new coal-fired power projects abroad and its ramped-up support for clean energy.

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The report also calls for international cooperation with China, an associate member of the IEA and "one of the biggest players in the global energy markets".

"If countries cooperate with each other, we can reach our energy and climate goals earlier and in a more affordable way," Birol said.

"China, as President Xi Jinping said, is ready to cooperate at international levels with other countries. … Chinese opening doors for international cooperation is good news for the entire world," he said.