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Blog Posts: china

  • 7 Stories to Watch in 2014

    Earlier this month, WRI launched its “Stories to Watch in 2014.”

    All years are important, but decisions made in 2014 will have a striking impact for decades to come. Here are seven potential game-changers:

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  • China Can Turn its Challenges into Clear Opportunities for Greener Growth

    Confronted with a cooling economy and global headlines declaring an "Airpocalypse", China faces challenges on multiple fronts. While many people are quick to point out the hurdles, the reality is that its leaders are moving ahead with significant policy measures and reforms. If successful, these actions will not only help drive China's economic development, they will address another mounting threat: climate change.

    The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms the risks of climate change and humans' central role in it. China is no less vulnerable. One-third of its coastline is highly vulnerable to rising seas that will probably lead to the relocation of coastal communities. China's agricultural production - including rice, wheat and corn - could fall dramatically within a few decades due to shifts in precipitation and soil quality. Health impacts, including malaria and other infectious diseases, are also expected to mount as global temperatures rise.

    As China moves to tackle issues related to the economy, pollution and urbanisation, each carries opportunities to shift the country's emissions trajectory and make progress on climate change.

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  • King Coal’s Climate Challenge

    Coal is emerging as a major topic of conversation at the United Nations climate-change negotiations currently taking place in Warsaw – and rightly so. Indeed, it is a discussion that the world needs to have.

    The latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conclude that we are quickly using up our carbon “budget” – the amount of carbon that we can afford to emit while still having a good chance of limiting global warming to 2º Celsius. According to the IPCC, keeping the global temperature increase from pre-industrial levels below this threshold – the recognized tipping point beyond which climate change is likely to get seriously out of control – requires that the world emit only about 1,000 gigatonnes of carbon (GtC). More than half of this amount was already emitted by 2011. Unless we shift away from carbon-intensive behavior, the remaining budget will run out in roughly three decades.

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  • Water Risks on the Rise for Three Global Energy Production Hot Spots

    Energy and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, supported by data and analysis from WRI’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas, surveyed water risks among the world’s top energy-producing regions. They found that three energy sectors face particularly high water risks: shale gas in the United States, coal production and coal-fired power in China, and crude oil in the Middle East.

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  • China’s Response to Air Pollution Poses Threat to Water

    Record-setting levels of smog this week shut down Harbin, a city of 11 million people in northeast China. Officials blamed increased coal consumption during the first days of winter heating, underscoring the urgency of the China State Council’s recently announced initiative to address persistent smog in major cities.

    But while the Air Pollution Control Action Plan has ambitious goals—cutting air particulates and coal consumption—it may create unintended problems for the country’s water supply.

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  • Recent Progress Shows China’s Leadership on Carbon Capture and Storage

    It is common knowledge that China burns a large amount of coal, with the fuel accounting for nearly 70% of China’s primary energy consumption in recent years. What is less commonly known is that China is also working on ways to reduce the impact of its coal use, including aggressively pursuing research and demonstration of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technology.

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  • Can China’s Air Pollution Action Plan Slow Down New Coal Power Development?

    Last month, China’s State Council announced a new action plan to combat air pollution, which included a prohibition of new coal-fired power plants in the three most important metropolitan areas around Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou (known as the “key-three city clusters”). But while the plan sounds like progress, will it actually slow down China’s new coal construction? A bit of analysis suggests that it may take more action to really curb China’s appetite for coal.

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  • New Greenhouse Gas Accounting Tool Will Help China’s Cities Pursue Low-Carbon Development

    Low-carbon development has become the core theme of China’s urbanization. In fact, it’s one of the country’s key strategies to achieve its target of reducing carbon intensity by 40-45 percent by 2020.

    China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has identified 36 pilot cities and assigned them several tasks.

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  • Inside China’s Emissions Trading Scheme: First Steps and the Road Ahead

    China launched its first pilot emission trading program this past June. This development is potentially a major marker in the country’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

    The Shenzhen Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) program will cover some 635 industrial companies from 26 industries. This is the first of seven proposed pilot GHG cap-and-trade schemes in China, which the country has been developing since 2011. Besides Shenzhen, four of the other pilots are expected to start trading this year.[^1]

    In 2010, these 635 industrial companies emitted 31.7 million tons of carbon dioxide and contributed 59 percent of the Industrial Added Value (gross domestic product (GDP) due to industry) and 26 percent of Shenzhen’s GDP.

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  • Majority of China’s Proposed Coal-Fired Power Plants Located in Water-Stressed Regions

    To maintain its economic growth and provide for its massive population, China must reconcile two powerful, converging trends: energy demand and resource scarcity. One prime example of this tension is the country’s coal use and water supply.

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