President Xi Jinping said in September that the country's carbon emissions would begin to decline by 2030, and he said the country will reach carbon neutrality by 2060 — in four decades.
In the meantime, policymakers are making clear that economic growth remains a top priority — and that growth depends largely on coal power. Beijing has a GDP target of 6% this year, a level which analysts say would allow authorities to tackle long-term problems such as the country's high debt levels.
"China's energy structure is dominated by coal power. This is an objective reality," said Su Wei, deputy secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission. CNBC translated his Mandarin-language comments, which he made late last week following Xi's separate remarks at a U.S.-led global leaders climate summit.