Pollution is not a problem you address overnight, but China's on track for a clear sky: Changhua Wu

Reading time: 8 minutes
16 March 2015

LONDON: Just hours after China's annual National People's Congress came to a close, we held a live Twitter Q&A with our China Director Changhua Wu, to discuss some of the climate-related outcomes of the country's biggest government meeting, as well as look to the future of China's low carbon leadership in the crucial year before the global climate talks take place in Paris.

The Climate Group kicked off the conversation by focusing on key outcomes of the National People's Congress (NPC), where Premier Li Keqiang had reiterated his pledge to tackle emissions in China following mounting public distress at the country's worsening pollution problems.

Changhua seemed hopeful about the government's plans, highlighting China's past success in lowering emissions and welcoming the country's new Environment Minister, whose climate expertise and commitment she praised. 

Businesses like Swiss Re chipped in to find out more about China's pathway to emissions reductions, a grand feat as the world's biggest economy and emitter. But Changhua said the country instead sees climate action and clean energy as an opportunity for growth, with the environmental industries increasingly at the heart of governmental economic plans. 

Going back to the climate and low carbon commitments from China’s leaders at NPC, Changhua Wu hinted at their power as a signal for positive INDC submissions and consequently strong climate ambition from China in securing a global climate deal in Paris.

Importantly the chat touched on China's huge fossil fuel-based energy use and the impact on emissions and pollution from its continued and growing use.

Changhua also said: "China will peak coal if not today then very soon, no later than 2020. Already on-top leadership will make it final. With the 13th Five Year Plan coming up in a year's time, I feel confident China will achieve peaking coal demand just around the corner."

There was interesting discussion on collaboration between India and China, a critical issue as the world's biggest economies urge each other on to executing more ambitious INDC submissions ahead of the global climate talks.

Changhua responded, "On the bilateral front India and China are working together and meet regularly to coordinate climate stance. There is big potential for India and China to work closer through solar, efficiency etc. But both face BIG challenges of protecting 1 billion+ people. On finance side however, there is the Indo-China Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, BASIC Bank and others including the Silk Road Fund. And there'll be more collaboration."

Today The Climate Group released a new Insight Briefing about the Chinese government's concept for sustainable development that will be center to its 13th Five Year Plan and come into action next year, 'Ecological Progress'. Changhua covered the basics of the report and explained how the pioneering concept is the 'foundation' for China's green growth. 

China invested more money  - a record amount - in clean energy than any other country last year. When asked about what clean technologies in particular can accelerate China's low carbon growth, Changhua stressed the importance of scaling up solar energy.

But while it is clear strong government policy at the national and international level is key for success at Paris and for achieving a cleaner economy for future generations, Changhua pointed out how business, local government and the public all have a role to play in driving China's clean revolution. 

The Climate Group in China is about to start the second year of its low carbon leadership learning program Future Academy, which is still open for enrollment. Changhua heads up the program and was keen to express the importance of training today's green entrepreneurs to be tomorrow's climate leaders.

Follow us on Twitter @ClimateGroup for more live Q&As and daily news, Quick Facts and analysis showing evidence of the fast-growing global low carbon economy. 

Read our new Insight Briefing - 'Ecological Progress': Understanding China's new framework for sustainable development 

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