Test Piloting Low-carbon Development

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published Dec 23, 2014 12:19 AM, last modified Dec 23, 2014 12:23 AM

Test Piloting Low-carbon Development 

 

Climate change was not an area of interest for China’s policymakers when Energy Foundation China was founded in 1999, but reducing green house gas emissions is now a part of China's economic development agenda.

In 2009, the State Council proclaimed that by 2020, CO2 emissions per unit of GDP should be 40–45 percent lower than in 2005. But many questions remained: What is a practical approach to creating a low-carbon economy? What are the best strategies and policies? Can the entire country be mobilized to promote low-carbon development? Working with Chinese leaders, the Low-carbon Development Program (LCDP) focused on answering these and other questions.

In China, many policy innovations are first tested out in pilots; LCDP prioritized this approach in supporting new ideas and grantees.

In February 2010, Energy Foundation China and ClimateWorks Foundation partnered with the National Development and Reform Commission’s (NDRC) Department of Climate Change to initiate the “Low-carbon Economy Project,” which explored the feasibility of low-carbon pilots. The project was designed to help China come up with guidance for low-carbon development and a local low-carbon economy pilot program, and build the capacity of local authorities to compile greenhouse gas inventories. The research team worked with Guangdong, Nanchang, Hubei, Chongqing, and Baoding to test low-carbon concepts against different local conditions.

Seeing the early results of this project, later in 2010, NDRC issued the Notice on Launching Low-carbon Pilot Provinces and Cities, initiating the first group of 13 low-carbon pilots in five provinces and eight cities. LCDP assisted the official pilots in compiling implementation plans and setting targets and timelines.

Carbon trading can be an efficient way to achieve low-carbon growth for cities. In July 2011, Energy Foundation China and ClimateWorks signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Jointly Establishing the International Green Development Partnership—again with the Department of Climate Change—to press ahead on designing carbon-trading mechanisms. Later that year, NDRC released the Notice on Launching Carbon Trading Pilots.

Partnering with local development and reform commissions, LCDP supported the pre-stage preparations of carbon-trading pilots in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Guangdong. LCDP also planned exchanges among domestic and overseas carbon-trading policymakers and experts, and organized study tours for Chinese officials to receive training in Washington, California, and other regions of the United States. In September 2012, NRDC approved the implementation work plans for the first batch of carbon emission trading pilots—plans that were drafted by LCDP grantees.

These investments and early leadership from NDRC provided the building blocks for the four pilots to launch their carbon trading programs within two years.

In November 2012, NDRC issued the Notice on Launching the Second Batch of Low-carbon Pilot Provinces and Cities. At present, China has identified 6 low-carbon pilot provinces and 36 low-carbon pilot cities. Thirty-one of China’s provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities have at least one low-carbon pilot city. Altogether, China’s low-carbon pilots cover almost half of the country’s population and GDP.

Once the national carbon market is up and running, expected to occur before 2020, China will become the largest carbon market in the world, helping the nation reach its low-carbon development goals.

Su Wei, director general of the climate change department and China’s top climate negotiation, said “The Energy Foundation is one of the pioneer overseas organizations to support the low-carbon city pilots both in term of financial resources and intellectual advice and played an instrumental and catalytic role in promoting low-carbon development in China.”

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