Wednesday, October 6, 2010

China’s Commitments to Address Climate Change

The chair of China’s Department of Climate Change led the panel that described the steps that China is taking to reduce their carbon intensity.  They believe that they have maintained a responsible attitude in their efforts, and have played an active role in the Kyoto Protocol framework and Copenhagen Accord.  They continue to make commitments for sustainable development, most notably by committing to a 40-45% reduction in energy per unit GDP by 2020!  To be clear, this is what they mean by reducing their carbon intensity; they are emphatic that their emissions will continue to rise (just not at the same rate as BAU).  They have already reduced their carbon intensity by 15.61%, working towards a goal of 20% by 2010. In terms of clean energy, hydro (380 GW), wind (150GW) and nuclear (70GW) are their biggest projects, followed by solar (20GW) and biomass (30GW).  It has not been easy for China to make these commitments and meet these goals.  They have over 150 million people living under the UN poverty line (earning less than $1/day). Furthermore, they must reserve their arable land for agriculture.  They also acknowledge that there have been logistical problems with the placement of nuclear plants (apparently China is not immune to the NIMBY problem), connecting solar and wind power to the energy grid, and finally, in displacing people for construction of dams.

In China, the government operates under a series of five-year plans.  The 40-45% goal was part of the 11th 5-year plan, which ends in 2010.  They are now planning for the 12th 5-year program, and the chair believes they will raise the targets again for reduction of CO2 intensity. In addition, they hope to organize more study and research on low carbon buildings and transportation.  They hope to increase the use of renewable energy by 10% and look for 20% forest coverage.  The government doesn’t actually announce the new 5-year program until March, so stay tuned! You can always check out their website at , with their report “China’s Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change – the Progress Report.”

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