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.
WRI China focuses on three priorities based on the assessment of need, opportunity, and capacity:
Sustainable cities strategy and planning
Climate and energy
The Network for China's Climate and Energy Information
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.
A new Greenhouse Gas Protocol tool to help Chinese cities measure and manage their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was launched today in Beijing.
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.
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.
Being "thrifty" means spending one cent as if you have only half a cent. This is an old Chinese saying to warn people to handle affluence without forgetting about a potential crisis. Underlying this common sense is an ethic rooted in Chinese culture: wasting is bad.
President Xi Jinping has urged Chinese people to "build a thrifty society", because if we persist with our business-as-usual production and consumption pattern we would invite a resource and environmental crisis.
One "inconvenient truth" is that China uses about 20 percent of the total global energy to produce about 12 percent of the world GDP. The country's energy consumption per unit of GDP is 2.2 times that of the world average. A similar pattern is seen in the consumption of other resources such as steel, cement and other raw materials, as highlighted by State leaders and experts at the International Forum on Building Ecological Civilization hold in Guiyang, Guizhou province, last month. In doing so, the leaders indicated that huge amounts of energy could be saved in China by improving efficiency.
China makes and uses almost half of the cement in the world. Between now and 2030, some estimates are that China will erect half of all buildings expected to be constructed in the world. Cement is an energy intensive and polluting business currently responsible for 15% of China’s emissions of carbon dioxide.
Working with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
and the China Building Materials Academy, WRI is providing greenhouse
gas (GHG) accounting tools and training to help cement companies
measure GHG emissions and better understand their energy needs. It’s a critical step in helping a booming industry meet government
mandated energy reduction goals.
The GHG Protocol (developed by WRI and the World Business
Council on Sustainable Development) is the basis for the
program. It has been adopted by China’s NDRC as a standard in its efforts to lead national programs to address global
warming. Our aim is to work with the NDRC to expand use
of the GHG Protocol into other energy- and GHG-intensive
industries (oil and gas, petrochemical, chemical, power
generation, and iron and steel).
WRI’s New Ventures project identifies, mentors, and provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to investment. New Ventures operates in six of the world’s most vibrant emerging economies – Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, and Mexico – where the environment and development decisions being made today will impact the entire world, and where the private sector, particularly SMEs, is driving economic growth.
This year, the full New Ventures portfolio grew to 180 enterprises and facilitated the transfer of $158 million from angel investors, banks, green funds, venture capital funds, and development banks to SMEs that are protecting the environment and delivering economic growth.
One shining example is Beijing Shenwu, a manufacturer of energy efficient industrial furnaces that uses a new recycled combustion air technology to reduce energy consumption by as much as 60% and decrease CO2 emissions by at least 30%. Deployment of the system in the Chinese steel industry has reduced that country’s annual industrial energy consumption by the equivalent of 2.09 million tons of coal, thus cutting CO2 emissions by over 11.72 million metric tons a year. It is a critical feat given that China and the U.S. are the world’s top greenhouse gas emitters.