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.
BEIJING (November 10, 2015)—The China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), an influential advisory body that includes Chinese and international experts, has released recommendations to make China’s financial sector better support environmental sustainability, domestically and internationally.
WRI President and CEO Andrew Steer answers the question: Is it possible to enjoy rising levels of prosperity and also enjoy clean air, pure water, green spaces and uncongested, livable cities?
A new report lays out clear recommendations for how the Chinese government can put the right policies in place to shift investments from polluting to sustainable industries.
Coal production and power generation has driven Ningxia’s economy over the past decade. However, as an extremely thirsty industry, coal has put more stress on the area’s water supply and heightened competition with other users, including farms and households. A WRI working paper recommends developing a coordinated system to ensure sustainable development of water and economy in Ningxia.
China committed to establish a national emissions-trading program, while the United States announced new actions to help reduce its emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
Two new papers from the Open Climate Network find that with further ambitious actions, China can peak its emissions at a lower level than planned, with lower cumulative emissions than initially thought.
This paper is a comprehensive, balanced assessment of China’s efforts to reduce emissions and act on climate change since 2011. It identifies key actions to watch for in 2016 as the country unveils its next five-year plan (FYP).