In fast-urbanizing China, nearly 90 percent of coastal cities face some degree of water scarcity and roughly 300 million rural residents lack access to clean water.
To quench the country’s chronic thirst, the Chinese government has turned to desalination, aiming to produce as much as 3 million cubic meters of desalinated water daily by 2020, up from today’s 0.77 million cubic meter.
China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) created GHG accounting and reporting guidelines for 10 industries, using the GHG Protocol’s (GHGP) framework and methodologies created by WRI and WBCSD. In 2014, NDRC mandated GHG reporting for more than 20,000 companies and organizations, all of which will measure and manage emissions based on GHGP guidelines.
China’s size and rapid growth have made it an economic powerhouse. Yet it’s come at a cost: China is the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitter, burning almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined. The country’s energy and manufacturing sectors account for more than 80 percent of its energy consumption.
Despite Chinese companies’ role in fueling climate change, most do not measure or manage their greenhouse gas emissions.
WRI, in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), created the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol Corporate Standard, a framework for companies to consistently, accurately account for and reduce emissions. In 2013, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) created GHG accounting and reporting guidelines for 10 industries, using the GHG Protocol’s framework and methodologies as a reference. In 2014, NDRC mandated GHG reporting for more than 20,000 companies and organizations, all of which will measure and manage emissions based on guidelines mentioned above. Companies reporting their emissions as part of China’s pilot Emission Trading Scheme (ETS)—which comprises five cities and two provinces—will also use the standards.
Since 2009, WRI has organized regular workshops and training with NDRC and local officials to make the case for mandatory emissions reporting. WRI worked closely with the China Business Council for Sustainable Development and the China Electricity Council to develop GHG accounting methodologies specifically for the chemical and power sectors. And WRI experts advised on the development of online GHG reporting systems for Jiangsu Province, Guangdong Province and Qingdao city.
NDRC has laid the political and technical groundwork for a national GHG reporting program. It will raise companies’ awareness on carbon management and help the government track emissions performance. Measuring emissions is the first step in getting companies to reduce them. If China — the world’s biggest emitter — can decrease its corporate sector emissions, it would help prevent warming globally.
What’s more, a robust GHG reporting program is imperative for creating a national emissions trading scheme, which is a key policy instrument for China to mitigate GHG emissions.
With China at an economic and environmental crossroad, ongoing cooperation on climate and clean energy with the U.S. can yield significant social and economic rewards for both countries. The benefits of this course can and must go together to tackle climate change and create vibrant economies for the 21st century.
The blockbuster climate announcement in Beijing on November 12 unveiled new targets for both China and the United States. The renewed collaboration on climate change could be an historic turning point.
How should countries decide what to put into their national emissions reduction plans, and how should they be evaluated? What should governments, civil society, and the private sector take into account in thinking about the equitability of a country’s actions?
Through the Compact of Mayors and parallel initiatives, cities are making ambitious commitments to curb emissions, adopting new greenhouse gas emissions measuring standards, and supporting the financing of low-carbon infrastructure.
The Long March was a watershed moment in Chinese history—the moment Mao Zedong’s nascent Communist Party escaped disaster in 1934 en route to forming a new nation. Fast forward 80 years, and China is poised to embark on a new Long March – but this time away from climate change and environmental damage toward a sustainable future.