Holis­tic Re­sponse

China to pro­mote global col­lab­o­ra­tion at UN cli­mate change event in Poland

Beijing Review - - WORLD - By He Jiankun

WThe au­thor is head of the Aca­demic Com­mit­tee of the In­sti­tute of Cli­mate Change and Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment at Ts­inghua Uni­ver­sity hen rep­re­sen­ta­tives from around the globe meet in Ka­tow­ice, Poland, for the an­nual UN Cli­mate Change Con­fer­ence, the world’s at­ten­tion will once again be on the 2015 Paris Agree­ment. The pact com­mit­ted to lim­it­ing global warm­ing to 2°C above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els, with 1.5°C be­ing the pre­ferred curb. The Ka­tow­ice meet­ing in De­cem­ber is ex­pected to come up with a roadmap for the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the agree­ment.

China played a ma­jor role in the adop­tion of the Paris Agree­ment, com­mit­ting to sign­ing the pact early on in 2016. In the same spirit, China will con­tinue to build bridges be­tween dif­fer­ent par­ties to help in­tro­duce mea­sures to com­bat cli­mate change. Specif­i­cally, China aims to help ad­vance global col­lab­o­ra­tion for a com­pre­hen­sive, bal­anced and ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pact’s pro­vi­sions on is­sues such as mit­i­ga­tion, adap­ta­tion, fund­ing, tech­nol­ogy, ca­pac­ity build­ing and trans­parency.

Do­mes­ti­cally, China has made ad­dress­ing cli­mate change part of its on­go­ing eco­nomic tran­si­tion. The push for an en­ergy revo­lu­tion and a low-car­bon shift in its devel­op­ment model will help lower green­house gas emis­sions—but is also cru­cial for meet­ing new devel­op­ment goals of mod­ern­iza­tion.

New nor­mal

China’s econ­omy has en­tered a new phrase, in which growth has slowed. The av­er­age an­nual GDP ex­pan­sion from 2013 to 2017 was 6.9 per­cent, com­pared with 10.1 per- cent from 2005 to 2013. Now the pri­or­ity is on qual­ity. As eco­nomic re­struc­tur­ing and in­dus­trial up­grad­ing ac­cel­er­ate, the out­put of en­ergy-in­ten­sive prod­ucts and raw ma­te­ri­als has reached its limit or be­gun to fall. The av­er­age an­nual growth of to­tal en­ergy con­sump­tion has de­clined to 1.9 per­cent (2013-17) from 6 per­cent (2005-13). The con­sump­tion of new and re­new­able en­ergy has in­creased about 10 per­cent on av­er­age an­nu­ally, fu­el­ing a low-car­bon shift.

En­ergy con­ser­va­tion and the adop­tion of al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources have led to a fall in car­bon in­ten­sity—car­bon-diox­ide emis­sions per unit of GDP—OF more than 4 per­cent an­nu­ally on av­er­age. It is much higher than the av­er­age level in de­vel­oped coun­tries. In re­cent years, China’s to­tal car­bon diox­ide emis­sions have sta­bi­lized or risen only slightly. As the econ­omy re­bounds in the com­ing years, to­tal emis­sions may edge up but will not grow as rapidly as in pre­vi­ous years.

China has been aim­ing for car­bon diox­ide emis­sions to peak at around the year 2030, when the GDP is pro­jected to grow at a rel­a­tively high rate of about 5 per­cent. For that to hap­pen, car­bon in­ten­sity at the peak­ing time needs to drop at a much higher an­nual rate than in de­vel­oped coun­tries. China must there­fore re­dou­ble its ef­forts to save en­ergy and ex­ploit al­ter­na­tive en­ergy re­sources.

China plans to cap its to­tal en­ergy con­sump­tion be­low 5 bil­lion tons of coal equiv­a­lent by 2020 and 6 bil­lion tons of coal equiv­a­lent by 2030. At the same time, it will step up the devel­op­ment of a low-car­bon en­ergy mix. Ac­cord­ing to plans, the power gen­er­ated by non-fos­sil fu­els will ac­count for 50 per­cent of to­tal power gen­er­a­tion by 2030. Also, non-fos­sil en­ergy will con­sti­tute more than 50 per­cent of to­tal pri­mary en­ergy con­sump­tion by 2050. When car­bon in­ten­sity de­creases at a rate higher than GDP growth, the in­creased car­bon diox­ide emis­sions re­sult­ing from eco­nomic growth will be off­set, al­low­ing emis­sions to peak.

Cur­rently, China’s new and re­new­able en­ergy sec­tors are flour­ish­ing with costs de­clin­ing fast. The in­stalled gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity of hy­dro, wind and so­lar power ranks first world­wide. But to meet the 2030 tar­gets, the ex­pan­sion must con­tinue. From 2015 to 2030, in­stalled non-fos­sil-fuel-based power gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity will have to in­crease by 1 bil­lion kilo­watts, equal­ing the cur­rent to­tal in­stalled power gen­er­a­tion ca­pac­ity of the United States.

Non-fos­sil en­ergy sup­ply should in­crease by 700 mil­lion to 800 mil­lion tons of coal equiv­a­lent, higher than Ja­pan’s an­nual en­ergy con­sump­tion. Added in­vest­ment in the power gen­er­a­tion sec­tor will sur­pass 10 tril­lion yuan ($1.44 tril­lion), thus cre­at­ing a new driver of eco­nomic growth and nu­mer­ous job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Co­or­di­nated ap­proach

China is com­mit­ted to sus­tain­able devel­op­ment while also ad­dress­ing the threat posed by cli­mate change. This strat­egy is three-pronged: first, change the eco­nomic devel­op­ment pat­tern; sec­ond, es­tab­lish an en­ergy sup­ply and con­sump­tion sys­tem that is clean, low-car­bon, safe and ef­fi­cient; and third, build a green, re­gen­er­a­tive in­dus­trial sys­tem. The goals are un­in­ter­rupted eco­nomic devel­op­ment, en­vi­ron­men­tal im­prove­ment, en­ergy se­cu­rity and lower car­bon diox­ide emis­sions.

The con­sump­tion of fos­sil fu­els such as coal and oil is the main cause of both car­bon diox­ide emis­sions and the dis­charge of pol­lu­tants such as sul­fur diox­ide, ni­tro­gen ox­ides and fine par­ti­cles. Sav­ing en­ergy and switch­ing to a low-car­bon en­ergy mix are ef­fec­tive ways not only of cut­ting car­bon diox­ide emis­sions, but also of boost­ing eco­nomic ef­fi­ciency, im­prov­ing the en­vi­ron­ment and safe­guard­ing en­ergy se­cu­rity.

China has re­solved to make very sig­nif­i­cant progress against pol­lu­tion in the

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