Here’s a 7 minute television interview I did with the US television foreign policy program “Foreign Affairs”, discussing China’s clean energy policies. If you based in the U.S., it may not be too late to catch this on the TV (check schedule).
(p.s. not sure what the first visual on “a new direction for Hong Kong” means!)
I suspect there may be some questions regarding my remarks about Read the full story
A follow-up to my previous post (“China’s softens climate rhetoric-commits to emissions peak (again), shows flexibility on Western reductions“) on the day that the Climate Group released an important report on China’s low-carbon opportunity. This post was originally published here.
China’s climate change envoy, Yu Qingtai, made headlines when he declared in a news conference earlier this month that “there is no one in the world who is more keen than us to see China reach its emissions peak as early as possible.”
Now all eyes are focused on the United States and China—the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters—with just four months to go to the U.N. summit on climate change in Copenhagen, where nations will negotiate a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Attendees at the most recent round of U.N. climate talks in Bonn, Germany may have left the meetings with a pessimistic sense that we’re a long way off from a global agreement. But interesting developments are unfolding in China outside of these U.N. meetings that bring a more hopeful message.
China already committed in a declaration last month with 15 other large emitting countries at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Italy to peak global and national emissions “as soon as possible.” That provision lacks a precise timetable and is laden with the caveat that of the “overriding priorities of developing countries,” but it is the statement of intent that the Chinese are clearly taking seriously.
Then just last week, a panel of climate policy experts from various Chinese government think tanks, published an extensive 900-page report that has gained notable attention in both the Chinese and Western press for advocating the notion that China can feasibly aim to peak its carbon emissions by 2030. The report is advisory in nature and by no means represents official policy, but it is the latest in a series of overtures by prominent Chinese academicians to set emissions peaking pathways. Hu Angang, a public policy professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing and a prominent policy adviser for the Chinese government, has also advocated for China to aim for peaking carbon emissions in 2030. He Jiankun, deputy head of the State Council’s Expert Panel on Climate Change Policy, has projected that China’s emissions are more likely to peak at 2035. Additionally, a different report released earlier this year by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, another prominent government think tank, called for peaking between Read the full story
Guest blogger John Romankiewicz a/k/a Sustainable John (pictured right), a carbon markets analyst at New Energy Finance and director of the China’s Green Beat video blog, questions the consistency of NRDC’s announced progress on energy intensity reductions with his own calculations using NBS data.
China’s energy intensity target is perennially referred to by Chinese negotiators in international talks, but also regularly mistaken by the foreign press as some carbon emissions reduction target. Here’s the low down on what it is, progress to date, including the most recent announcement, and exploration of some curious inconsistencies.
What is China’s energy intensity target?
From 1980 to 2000, China led itself down a path of increasing energy efficiency and concern for the bottom line by introducing market incentives and competition such that by 2000, GDP output required two-thirds less energy than it did in 1978. From 2001-2005 however, China – with a realization of its new found wealth – went to a tremendous building boom. Industry could not keep its eye on such rising demand and energy efficiency improvements at the same time, so energy efficiency took the back seat. The government, realizing this in 2005, set a plan in the 11th Five Year Plan to once again improve on energy efficiency. Specifically, the headline target was to reduce energy intensity (the amount of primary energy consumed per unit of GDP produced) by 20% from 2006 to end of 2010. Using energy intensity as the cursor of progress leaves room for GDP to grow as it will even as energy efficiency is being improved.
Two of the most noteworthy programs have been the shutting down of old, inefficient coal-fired capacity and the Top 1000 Energy-Consuming Enterprises program. Additionally, many industrial enterprises have been installing waste heat and gas recovery equipment at their facilities. There are plenty of other smaller initiatives like Read the full story
China’s softens climate rhetoric—commits to emissions peak (again), shows flexibility on Western reductions
Written with assistance from Austin Davis and posted originally on Climate Progress.
Multiple news outlets have been reporting that yesterday’s news conference with China’s top climate change ambassador, Yu Qingtai, marked a significant departure from China’s established attitudes toward climate change. He also expressed a degree flexibility regarding China’s previous demands that developed nations pledge to reduce their carbon emissions 40% by 2020 from 1990 levels at Copenhagen this December.
It’s true: Wednesday’s conference provided a more explicit explanation of China’s position on climate change than had been offered previously. Yu reaffirmed China’s commitment to eventually reducing its carbon emissions while giving more specific details as to China’s position on the Copenhagen talks.
Great quotes like “there is no one in the world who is more keen than us to see China reach its emissions peak as early as possible” may have caused a stir among the western media, but this is not really news.
Influential Chinese scholars have been pushing for a peaking pathway for some time now. Hu Angang, a public policy professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing and a prominent policy adviser for the Chinese government, has advocated for China to aim for a peaking of carbon emissions in 2030, while Read the full story
South Korea, a ‘developing’ country, embraces 2020 emissions cap, with important implications for a global deal in Copenhagen
Today we hop over the waters to talk about Korea, but with important implications for China’s negotiating position in Copenhagen. Its been a busy news day in Korea, both North AND South, but it is the latter where I focus our discussions today in a post was originally published on Climate Progress with the assistance of Dan Sanchez.
South Korea may not be outdoing the United States’ clean energy commitments yet, but it has just announced intentions to adopt a 2020 emissions cap, the first developing (non-Annex I) country to do so. Reuters explains:
The government said it would choose a target this year from three options: an 8 percent increase from 2005 levels by 2020, unchanged from 2005, or 4 percent below 2005. Its emissions doubled from 1990 to 2005, the fastest growth in the OECD…. Officials said they marked a big commitment to head off an estimated 30 percent rise in emissions that would result if no action were taken.
One might argue if South Korea is really a developing country—it is considered one under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which was adopted in 1992, but was in 1996 subsequently admitted to the OECD, which is usually thought of as a club of the rich countries.
One might also question the choice of a 2005 baseline rather than 1990, which all the targets in the Kyoto Protocol are keyed to. The reasoning behind the choice of a 2005 baseline is obvious from the quote above, which explains that South Korea’s emissions have risen steeply in the years since 1990. The result is that none of the three choices will result in reductions from a 1990 level.
Nevertheless, the symbolic significance of the announcement cannot be overstated–South Korea is the first non-Annex I country to indicate that it will adopt quantifiable emissions targets for 2020. While the article notes that South Korea’s commitment could be “voluntary,” the 2020 timeframe suggests that the country may be open to Read the full story