China Strategy to Clean Industry & Energy, Creating Millions of Green Jobs

China Strategy to Clean Industry & Energy,  Creating Millions of Green Jobs

China’s climate negotiators fired off a pre-emptive volley,
with the most detailed report to date on the progress the country has made to
ease greenhouse gases, and the strategy it will adopt at the climate talks in
Durban. A few days earlier it was reported that China can make a net gain of
9.5m jobs over the next five years if it phases out its dirtiest, energy
intensive industries and replaces them with renewable technology and other
“green” businesses.

White paper outlining China’s recent achievements seen as
attempt to minimise blame if talks in Durban break down

Jonathan Watts on (22 November 2011):

China has been battling against its greenhouse gas
emissions. China’s climate negotiators fired off a pre-emptive volley, with the
most detailed report to date on the progress the country has made to ease
greenhouse gases, and the strategy it will adopt at next week’s climate talks
in Durban.

With the world’s biggest carbon emitter expected to come
under intense pressure in South Africa, the government released the white paper
to highlight its achievements on renewables, afforestation and industrial
efficiency, and set the stage for closer collaboration with Europe and developing

It is both a last-ditch attempt to salvage a deal and a
political insurance policy aimed at minimising blame – and most likely
deflecting it to the US – if the talks break down.

The document released by the State Council – China’s cabinet
– contained no new details, but it spelled out the measures the government has
taken to meet the commitment made at Copenhagen: a reduction in carbon
emissions relative to GDP by 40-45% between 2005 and 2020.

The paper also spells out the steps that will be taken over
the next five years to increase forest cover by 12.5m hectares and lift the
non-fossil fuel share of energy consumption to 11.4%.

Despite widespread pessimism about the prospects for a deal,
Xie Zhenhua, the head of the Chinese delegation to Durban, said China wanted to
overcome the impasse between rich and poor countries by getting Europe to
commit to a renewal of the Kyoto Protocol, and other nations – who are
unwilling to sign – to make comparable voluntary cuts or provide technology and
financial assistance.

Xie said an extension to the Kyoto Protocol – the first
commitment phase of which is currently set to end in 2012 – was crucial:
“How to solve this problem is actually a very central, very key problem at
the Durban meeting”.

A comprehensive deal still looks elusive and the Guardian
reported this week that rich countries have privately admitted that no new
global climate agreement will be reached before 2016 at the earliest, but hopes
have been rekindled by signs that Europe, China and the G77 group of developing
nations have been working constructively in recent months. There is a faint
possibility that Europe may agree to a new commitment period if China and the
G77 promise to accept binding cuts by 2015 or 2020.

Yang Fuqiang, senior climate adviser to the US-based Natural
Resource Defence Council, said the paper showed a more co-operative and
transparent approach.

“This new white paper shows China’s new policy towards
climate change is more constructive, more flexible,” he said. “This
white paper will help to release the pressure if China is unfairly accused in

Other NGO analysts concurred. Wu Changhua, the greater China
director of the Climate Group, said: “I don’t think this white paper will
influence the process of the Durban conference, but it is a form of
communication with the world. It shows what China has done.”

Other observers saw hints of a more fundamental shift,
including a recognition by the government that its existing approach is
insufficient because the economy is growing so fast that even if China achieves
its carbon intensity goals the overall amount of emissions will surge.

Li Yan of Greenpeace said she was encouraged that Xie was
talking openly about the need to control total energy consumption, rather than
just its intensity relative to GDP.

“I think Xie admitted the China’s energy structure is
the big problem for China carbon emission. To control the use of coal energy is
key to control carbon emissions,” Li said. “The central government
has the policy, but the problem is how to implement it.”

But most noted the strategic role of the paper in highlight
how much China has done in recent years compared to the US and other so-called
“boulder nations” that are increasingly seen as obstacles to

Report urges China to replace dirty, energy intensive
industries with renewable technology and other ‘green’ businesses

Jonathan Watts on (18 November 2011):

If China phases out energy-intensive technology it can great
millions of jobs, a report says.

China can make a net gain of 9.5m jobs over the next five
years if it phases out its dirtiest, energy intensive industries and replaces
them with renewable technology and other “green” businesses,
according to an influential advisory body.

The potential for green growth was flagged up in a report
that highlights the “Jeckyl and Hyde” nature of the environmental
situation in China, which can claim both the world’s biggest investment in new
energy and the most dangerous levels of pollution. The report was released this
week by the China Council of International Co-operation on Environment and
Development, which is headed by Li Keqiang – widely tipped to become the next
prime minister – and includes 200 domestic and overseas experts and leading
figures in the United Nations and other world bodies.

On the economics of a shift to a more sustainable
development path, it is brimful of ambition and optimism. The council advises
the government to spend 5.8 trillion yuan (£61bn) on measures to save energy,
protect the environment and replace polluting industries with hi-tech firms. It
estimates this would create 10.6m jobs, boost GDP by 8 trillion yuan and result
in energy savings worth another 1.4 trillion yuan. These gains, it says, would
far exceed the costs of eliminating the dirtier sectors of the economy, which
are calculated as a loss of 950,000 jobs and 100bn yuan in output.

At their annual meeting, the council emphasised the need to
shift track – a process that the government has tried to promote in its latest
five-year plan. “The industrial sector is still the prime energy consumer
and a major cause of pollution, so greening the sector is key for China’s green
transformation,” Li Ganjie, vice minister of environmental protection and
the council’s secretary general was quoted as saying by the China Daily.

On the environmental situation, however, the report painted
a far bleaker picture for the next 10 years of worsening levels of toxic waste,
ecological degradation and water shortages. At the release of the report, Achim
Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, praised China’s
$49bn (£31bn) investment last year in renewable energy, but said the country is
also paying an alarming health cost for the past three decades of dirty growth.
“They are paying a price first of all individually by premature deaths …
Respiratory diseases and premature deaths in the hundreds of thousands,”
he said.

The report – which was three years in the making – placed
much of the blame on an obsession with GDP expansion, particularly at a local
government level, which has resulted in lax implementation of environmental
goals. “The blind pursuit of economic growth has now become a huge
obstacle for China’s green growth,” it says.

It suggests the introduction of a carbon tax and new pricing
mechanisms that would encourage more efficient use of scarce resources such as
water. The central government says it is also trying to rebalance environmental
quality with economic quantity, partly by setting new goals to reduce pollution.

In the latest promise of improvement, the Ministry of
Environmental Protection said it will tighten air quality monitoring and
include PM2.5 small particulate matter in the index for the first time. Zhou
Shengxian, the environment minister, told the council that China would move
towards international standards of monitoring, but warned that there was still
a long way to go. “It will be a gradual process, and won’t be achieved all
at once,” Zhou said while outside Beijing was shrouded in a thick haze.


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