China has unveiled its 13th Five-Year Plan, which will guide the country's economic and social development from 2016 through 2020. Its new climate and energy targets show that the country will continue its shift to a more sustainable growth model and deliver on its Paris Agreement commitments.
As President Xi Jinping has said, after unprecedented economic expansion since 1990, China now needs to embrace a new economic model that focuses more on the quality rather than the quantity of growth. Will the new 13th Five-Year Plan be able to deliver this?
Key actions China has taken on climate over the last 5 years
In a few days, China will release its 13th Five-Year Plan, a new economic, social and environmental blueprint for the country's development through 2020. Recent signs show that the country is already beginning to shift toward a low-carbon pathway, and the new plan provides the opportunity to build on that progress.
This Friday, March 4 at 10:00am EST / 4:00pm CET, World Resources Institute’s ChinaFAQs program will host a press teleconference featuring experts from WRI, NRDC and the Paulson Institute.
A history of deforestation has made Vietnam, China and South Korea especially vulnerable to coastal storms, floods and sandstorms. In the face of these crises, all three nations are pursuing the same solution&mdashrestoring degraded landscapes.
China's overseas investment grew from $1 billion in 2004 to more than $30 billion in 2014. In many cases, it's come at a cost to Africa's forests and the people who rely on them.
WRI President and CEO Andrew Steer revealed 2016's top stories to watch when it comes to the environment, economy and sustainability.
China recently issued its first directive on “green bonds,” funds exclusively applied to finance new and existing green infrastructure projects. The new standards should help scale up the use of green bonds and usher in new low-carbon projects like renewable energy and public transit systems.
Sludge-to-energy systems are a well-established technology, but their potential in China was little understood. WRI research demonstrated that such systems in China could reduce solid waste, greenhouse gases and water pollution, and produce organic compost and compressed natural gas – all while saving money. WRI’s work with Chinese officials helped them to plan or install plants in four Chinese cities that can eliminate 700,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year.
Wastewater and sewage sludge produced in the wastewater treatment process can pollute waterways if not safely treated. Sewage sludge is typically incinerated, releasing carbon dioxide and the potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide into the atmosphere, or disposed of in landfills, releasing the potent greenhouse gas methane. Both contribute to global climate change. Conventional wastewater treatment is also an energy-intensive process.
WRI studied a pilot project in the city of Xiangyang to convert sludge to energy. The study evaluated the nutrient recovery, energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, reclaimed methane and cost of sludge disposal systems and concluded that a sludge-to-energy system reduced solid wastes, greenhouse gases and water pollution, all while saving money. At the same time, the residue from the sludge treatment can be used as an organic compost, and the methane produced can be used to power the sludge disposal systems and compressed natural gas vehicles, further limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
Based on these findings, WRI worked with the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the agency that sets wastewater and sludge policy for China, to promote sludge-to-energy systems to other cities. WRI organized a study tour to several U.S. sludge-to-energy systems to help city leaders understand the benefits of the process.
These efforts helped lead four large cities in China – Beijing, Changsha, Chengdu and Hefei – to install or plan sludge-to-energy systems. Based on WRI estimates, these plants can help reduce 700,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year, comparable to one-third of the emissions produced each day by all the cars on U.S. roads. The plants are also expected to produce nearly 40 million cubic meters of compressed natural gas for taxis and city buses – enough to fill the tanks of 2 million taxis – while also powering the sludge disposal systems themselves. Further uptake of sludge-to-energy systems will reduce water pollution and help China to reach its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. WRI is now working with the World Bank and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to promote sludge-to-energy systems globally.