‘China Day’ at the Climate Leaders Summit (COP16, Cancun)

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6 December 2010
  • China city, provincial and national government delegation attends UN climate summit (COP16) for first time
  • The Climate Group publishes new “China Clean Cities” report and a new film showcasing some of China’s ‘laboratories for low carbon development’
  • China shares vision of a bottom-up “clean industrial revolution” and joins US and EU regional government representatives in Cancun to progress ‘real-world’ emissions cuts

CANCUN, 6 December 2010: For the first time, a delegation of senior Chinese government officials representing some of China’s major cities, states and national government met with international counterparts today in Cancun at ‘China Day’ – part of The Climate Group’s Climate Leaders Summit (6-8 December, 2010) on the sidelines of the annual UN climate talks (COP16) in Mexico.

Officials and delegates tasked with unleashing a clean industrial revolution in China over the next five years met green entrepreneurs and business leaders, as well as regional and national representatives from Africa, Europe, and North America representing over $10 trillion in GDP in a day of high-level meetings to share experiences, information and best practice on many of the practical low carbon strategies they have put in place that have contributed to national and global emissions reduction targets.

As part of this dialogue, international NGO The Climate Group has today published a new report – China Clean Revolution Report III: Low Carbon Development in Cities – which sets out the current state of play of climate leadership by Chinese cities.

In its 12th Five-Year Plan, due to be published in March 2011, China is expected to increase its national energy intensity target but focus on achieving these through localized climate action plans that take into account the unique resources, knowledge and capabilities of each region.

With an unprecedented urban growth rate and a wealthier urban population consuming increasingly more energy and resources per capita, cities are seen as central to China’s climate challenge.

The new report describes how, since 2008, early-mover cities have started to develop low carbon strategies that have become increasingly more sophisticated and shows how low-carbon strategies adopted by Chinese cities are currently characterized by six focus areas:

  1. Driving energy efficiency in industrial processes;
  2. Restructuring the local economy to favour low carbon businesses, including establishing low carbon industrial parks;
  3. Making new and existing buildings more energy efficient;
  4. Making low carbon transport widely available and pursuing ‘transport-orientated development’ to improve access to public transport;
  5. Increasing the share of renewable energy generation, including more decentralised generation and building-integrated systems (e.g. landfill gas, ground source heat pumps); and
  6. Reducing the impact of consumption – including public education programmes, the promotion of low carbon products and the introduction of energy efficiency standards for household appliances.

But the report also warns that significant challenges lie ahead for Chinese cities. The sheer scale of urbanization, and the fact that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, mean that those with the skills, experience and knowledge are likely to be outstripped by demand. Institutional and political challenges also remain.

Yi Wang, Deputy Director-General, Institute of Policy & Management, Chinese Academy of Sciences, says: “Low-carbon development has become a common concern in China, from top to bottom. The state-set target of a 20 per cent improvement in energy intensity sent a strong signal to local districts, and their enthusiasm and ambition to act has been equalled, if not exceeded, by that of the central government.”

Steve Howard, CEO, The Climate Group says: “At the heart of the new national plan are China’s cities. They are capable of unleashing a low carbon dragon that could power deep cuts in emissions around the world and create major international hubs for low carbon development. Business is willing and ready to join Chinese governments at all levels to ensure China’s clean industrial revolution.”

Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group, says: “To halve emissions by mid-century, we need all levels of government in every nation of the world to be looking to clean up their act. China has a credible plan to manage its future growth, prosperity and environmental commitments and is serious about making sure its cities and states understand the vital role they need to play on the ground in delivering the next 5-year economic plan.”

The China delegation included the Mayor of Song County, whose region is one of the eight cities and five provinces chosen by the State controlled National Development and Reform Commission (NRDC) in July this year to become national ‘laboratories for low carbon development’.

Li Dawei, Mayor of Song County says: “Song County has been designated a national laboratory for low carbon development by China’s government. We are fortunate to have huge natural resource to develop renewable energy generation so we’re focusing on developing hydropower, tapping agricultural methane and deploying solar technologies, as well as attracting new skills and technologies to the region.”

Several other cities and provinces feature in a new film also launched today by The Climate Group, showing different examples of the ‘bottom-up’ approach being taken by China to meet its energy intensity targets.

Over the next two days, the Chinese delegation will participate in discussions as part of the Climate Leaders Summit that will help inform how China’s cities will need to evolve to meet the challenges of the 12th Five-Year Plan – the setting of absolute emissions reduction targets; policies to boost low carbon industries and policies to attract private finance.

The ‘China Day’ meetings were hosted by international NGO The Climate Group and the attendance of the Chinese delegation was sponsored by the Vanke Foundation, Laoniu Foundation, Society of Entrepreneurs and Ecology, the Broad Group.

Tomorrow, The Climate Group’s States & Regional Alliance will meet again to formally agree that a key target over the next twelve months will be to help build capacity for low carbon regional development in emerging economies like China, Mexico and India.

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