This edition of Green Hops is dedicated to Andrew Symon, a Singapore-based journalist specializing in energy and whom I have had the pleasure and honor of making an acquaintance of as a result of his writings at Asia Times Online. He passed away unexpectedly on February 24, 2009. Andrew’s generosity, sense of mission and powerful intellect will be sorely missed.
Energy intensity (energy consumption per unit of GDP) last year was reduced by a further 4.59%, bringing the three year total in energy efficiency gains in 2006 through 2008 to 10.08%. This means that to reach its 20% energy intensity reduction target over the five year period for 2006 through 2010, it will have to reduce almost another 10% in energy intensity over 2005 levels. Even if it seems difficult to achieve, such efforts much press on. To sobering reality is that China’s annual greenhouse gas emissions surged 45% from 2002 to 2005 alone due to a combination of structural changes in industrial activities and increased consumption. Half of that increase, apparently, was driven by manufactured exports. But the Chinese authorities say that exports in general are declining (25% year on year) and that the amount of “high-energy-consuming products” exported in 2008 declined 16.2% from the previous year. Read the full story
Greetings all. Welcome to the kickoff of The Green Leap Forward, a blog dedicated to a greener China. As James Kynge observes in his award winning book–China Shakes the World–there exists in China a fundamental mismatch between “its frailty of its physical environment” on the one hand, and “the prodigious strength of its human capital” on the other hand, exerting an unsustainable toll over its natural resources. The consequences of such disequilibrium is familiar to anyone who has picked up a newspaper–nothing less than an ecological dystopia, as Elizabeth Economy starkly observes.
But awareness of the enormous environmental and energy challenges that China faces has reach the highest levels of the Chinese government. My hope for this blog is to track the latest developments of China’s attempts to green its path towards a “peaceful rise” in a cultural revolution that amounts to nothing less than a great Green Leap Forward, and hopefully inspire a broad audience both within China and without to think about what is clearly an enormous and grave situation not just for the Chinese, but for every citizen of the world. I would like to invite readers to post comments or questions.
For this blog’s maiden post, I would like to highlight the various measures and policies that China has enacted in recent months:
- It released a 62-page national climate change policy that include measures to reduce energy intensity from 2005 levels by 20% in 2010 and increase forest coverage by 20% over the same period;
- Small, inefficient coal mines have been closed and restrictions on new coal mines have been enacted;
- Thermal power stations, smelters, cement plants and electrolytic aluminum producers seeking an IPO will have to meet tougher environmental requirements before a listing is approved;
- The establishment of a “green credit policy,” under which bank loans for corporate polluters have been denied;
- Foreign direct investment policies have been revised to encourage investments in clean energy and environmental technology companies while raising the hurdles for resource hungry of polluting industries;
- Plans are in the works for Beijing to establish Asia’s first pollution credits exchange;
- A proposed policy to promote environmental governance that was quashed a few years ago will be revived; the State Council has declared that the promotion prospects of provincial and municipal government leaders will be hindered if their respective jurisdictions fail to achieve certain energy conservation and emissions reduction targets
- A database of information on the latest environmental technologies is being set up to help heavy industry comply with tough environmental standards.
This flurry of new policies have been catalyzed by the ever enlarging microscope that China finds itself under as it the rest of the world moves its manufacturing base to China and its trade surplus continues to grow at the expense of the U.S. and the E.U. , international concerns over climate change hit a tipping point, and the world prepares for China’s economic coming-of-age party at next year’s Beijing Olympics. Time will tell whether these policies are effective, and I get the feeling it will be sooner rather than later.