The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the International Fund for China's Environment (IFCE) held a briefing discussing China's ongoing efforts to implement environmental reforms and take action against climate change. Three environmental professionals from China discussed the challenges and progress associated with setting emission reduction policies, implementing national climate targets at the local level, incentivizing supply chain sustainability, and more.
Jiansheng QU, Ph.D, Director, Scientific Information Center for Resources and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, presented an overview of China’s energy use trends and highlights of its emissions reduction policy over the next 5 years.
- China is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs), but has lower GDP and household carbon emissions per capita than other developed nations.
- China’s National Plan on Climate Change (2014-2020) looks to achieve GHG emission reductions through a series of climate change adaptation pilot projects and the improvement of regional government policies.
- The National Plan on Climate Change has three main policy goals; 1) Greenhouse Gas Reduction, 2) Adaptation/Resilience to Climate Change, and 3) Wide International Cooperation.
- The main actions of the Climate Plan are: 1) Implement a carbon trading system and operate it effectively, 2) Strengthen basic capacity supports (such as improving regulation and enhancing the verification of emission reductions), 3) Enhance low-carbon innovation (R&D, technology transfers), and 4) Achieve a low-carbon lifestyle.
- The Climate Plan's main targets are to reduce carbon emissions per GDP unit by 40-45 percent of 2015 levels by 2020, and by 60-65 percent of 2005 levels by 2030; to increase the share of non-fossil energy in China's energy mix to 15 percent by 2020 and 20 percent by 2030; to have a national carbon trading system in operation by 2017; and to peak carbon emissions in 2030.
Lingling MU, Secretary General, Tianjin Green Supply Chain Association.
- China’s green policy actions in the wake of international climate agreements creates huge market demand.
- To achieve the emission reductions promised in its national commitment for the Paris Climate Agreement, China is expected to invest 40.4 trillion yuan (about $5.8 trillion) from 2005 to 2030.
- For China to complete a Green Transformation, it is promoting the following market mechanisms: green finance, carbon markets, green supply chain management, green procurement at the government level, and carbon taxes.
- Energy-saving products accounted for 134.63 billion yuan ($19.6 billion) in spending in 2015, or about 71.5 percent of the markets in question.
- Tianjin, the fourth largest city in China, and only 30 minutes from Beijing by train, must reduce its emissions 20.5 percent by 2020 to help meet national targets.
- The Tianjin green supply chain pilot program was established in 2013 to serve as a template for Chinese cities to meet their provincial emission reduction goals.
Xinyue LIU, Senior Engineer, Sichuan Environmental Engineering Appraisal Center, provided an overview of Chinese climate policy at the provincial and municipal government levels.
- China has adopted a national climate policy in response to external (international climate treaties) and internal (resource shortages, severe environmental pollution, and ecosystem degradation) stressors. China is the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter and has a responsibility and obligation to act.
- The need for climate change mitigation is a byproduct of a growing citizen desire for pollution control measures, especially with respect to air pollution. Chinese cities continue to suffer from alarming levels of smog and ultrafine particulates, which has resulted in serious public health impacts and the closing of plants during the worst periods.
- Currently, 68 percent of China's total energy is derived from coal, 18 percent from oil, and only 8 percent from renewables (including 7 percent from hydropower alone).
- National climate policy is set by the central government, and then implemented through plans developed at the provincial level and then at the municipal and district levels.
- The Ecological Red Line was created as a provincial-level mechanism to protect very significantly sized areas of remaining environmental resources from development. Any area designated as a Red Line is protected from any further development.
- Environmental protection measures in Sichuan are prioritizing the protection of grasslands, forests, and wetland ecosystems.
China has become a major player in the mitigation of global greenhouse gas emissions through its domestic policies and participation in key international agreements, including the Paris Climate Agreement and the United Nations' cap on aviation carbon emissions. While China's nationwide initiatives capture most of the headlines, local and municipal governments have been at the forefront of environmental change in the country and face their own unique implementation challenges. The speakers delved into how their corners of government and industry are balancing national emission reduction priorities with local needs.
Professor Jiansheng Qu's research focuses on environmental strategies, climate analysis, emission assessments, and the development of a low-carbon society. He holds a wealth of experience in domestic and international planning and has been a fellow at the U.S. Department of State and the University of Queensland. He has also contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Assessment Reports.
Lingling Mu is an expert in carbon and efficiency credit trading and was involved in the establishment of Tianjin Province's Climate Exchange, a carbon cap-and-trade scheme, from 2007 to 2013. Her career has also intersected with the international legal and financial sectors, where she examined infrastructure and energy investments. She currently works on the greening of Tianjin's industrial supply chains.
Before joining the Sichuan Environmental Engineering Appraisal Center, which assesses provincial construction projects, Xinyue Liu served as a consultant at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), where she oversaw the research, design, and implementation of ecological disaster risk reduction projects around the world. Her current work is dedicated to conservation planning and the management of foreign environmental projects.