China-US Energy Efficiency Alliance http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog Protecting the global environment by working with China to harness energy efficiency as a viable energy resource Mon, 01 Feb 2010 21:57:36 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.5 en China Records Its Climate Actions By Copenhagen Accord Deadline http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=26 http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=26#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2010 21:57:36 +0000 bfinamore http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=26 China’s Commitment

China has submitted its proposed climate mitigation actions to the UNFCCC in a letter dated January 28, ahead of the January 31, 2010 deadline in the Copenhagen Accord.  Given Premier Wen Jiabao’s hands-on role, along with President Obama and the leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa, in creating the Accord last month, it [...]]]> China’s Commitment

China has submitted its proposed climate mitigation actions to the UNFCCC in a letter dated January 28, ahead of the January 31, 2010 deadline in the Copenhagen Accord.  Given Premier Wen Jiabao’s hands-on role, along with President Obama and the leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa, in creating the Accord last month, it is encouraging to see China demonstrate its commitment to moving global climate negotiations forward.

In its letter, China reaffirmed its earlier announcement of policies to: (1) reduce its carbon intensity by 40-45% by 2020 from 2005 levels, (2) increase the share of non-fossil energy in its primary energy consumption to around 15% by 2020, and (3) increase forest coverage by 40 million hectares and forest stock volume by 1.3 billion cubic meters by 2020 from 2005 levels.  China noted that these actions will be implemented in accordance with the principles and provisions of the UNFCCC.

Although China did not explicitly state its association with the Copenhagen Accord, it had previously joined the other BASIC* countries in expressing its support for the Accord and underlining its importance as representing a high-level political understanding among the participants on some of the most contentious issues of the climate change negotiations. The U.S., Japan, E.U. and Australia have all formally associated with the Accord and submited their commitments.  India has officially submitted their mitigation action, while Brazil and South Africa have confirmed that they will submit their mitigation actions by the deadline as well. Together, these countries represent over 65 percent of global emissions and include all of the major emitters.

Let’s be clear: the aggregate reduction in carbon from these pledges is not enough to keep atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations below the 450 parts per million level that science tells us is necessary to have a 50 percent chance of keeping global warming to within 2 degrees Celsius and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.  Nevertheless, this is a critical start that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

China’s Carbon Intensity Target

The centerpiece of China’s submission is its commitment to decrease its carbon intensity – the amount of carbon dioxide it emits for every unit of GDP – by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 compared to a 2005 baseline (as I’ve blogged about here). China’s leaders have made it clear that this target will be binding on a domestic level, and that China will strive to achieve this goal regardless of other countries’ emissions reductions and irrespective of external financing.

Our own analysis has shown that China’s carbon intensity target is a solid commitment, a conclusion also held by the International Energy Agency (IEA).  In its most recent World Energy Outlook, IEA calculated the efforts that each country would need to make to keep atmospheric CO2 concentrations below 450 ppm and global warming to no more than two degrees Celsius.  The upper range of China’s 40-45% carbon intensity reduction target is close to the 47% carbon intensity reduction target for China estimated under IEA’s 450 ppm scenario, under which China’s actions would help to avoid almost 1 billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2020, more than any other country.

Meeting Targets

To meet its target, China cannot just do business as usual.  It will need to build upon the existing, aggressive efforts it undertook in the last four years to reduce its energy intensity by 20 percent from 2005 to 2010, including:

China will also have to sustain its rapid deployment of clean energy to meet the goal of having around 15% of the nation’s primary energy consumption come from non-fossil sources by 2020. This will require a massive amount of investment. In 2008, China invested a total of $15.6 billion in sustainable energy investment (see here). China is reportedly planning to invest between $440 billion and $660 billion in the next 10 years on alternative energy development, including nuclear, in what could be the largest such program in the world.

China will also have to build upon its aggressive reforestation efforts. At present, China’s man-made forest coverage is 54 million hectares, after a prior drive to increase forest coverage by 20.5 million hectares from 2003-08.  China’s forestry efforts, which are in addition to its carbon intensity reduction efforts, could remove over 2 billion tons of CO2 by 2020.

Chinese leaders are keenly aware of the economic and environmental damage that climate change can cause, and they also understand the benefits that becoming a world leader in renewable energy and clean technology will provide in terms of jobs and energy security. This is apparent in the manner in which China is already moving forward with its plans to reduce the growth of its emissions.

Results Under the 11th Five Year Plan

Looking at the serious ways that China has pursued its current Five-Year Plan goals, I am optimistic that China can live up to its pledges under the Copenhagen Accord. While many challenges remain, China has already achieved considerable progress in a number of its emission reduction efforts to date:

  • The Top 1000 Program: Under the Top 1000 Enterprises program, the Chinese government negotiated energy savings targets with the top 1,000 energy-consuming enterprises and required the enterprises to conduct energy audits and establish energy savings plans to reach their targets.  An evaluation of the top 1,000 enterprises’ performance last November (Chinese only) has noted that the enterprises as a whole have invested 90 billion RMB ($13.2 billion) in improving their efficiency and have already met their collective target under the 11th Five Year Plan of reducing energy consumption by 100 million tons of coal equivalent.  Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have estimated that the program will avoid about 450 million tons of CO2 emissions through 2010.
  • Closing Inefficient, Outdated Power Plants and Factories: By replacing outdated, inefficient power plants and industrial capacity, China is improving the efficiency of its electricity production and industry.  According to the latest reports, China has phased out 55.5 gigawatts of old thermal power plants from 2006-09, as well as 61 million tons of outdated iron-making capacity and similarly large quantities for steel and cement (see here). Of course, this does not mean that total emissions from Chinese power plants or industry are decreasing - in fact, China’s net thermal power capacity actually increased by 49 gigawatts in 2009.  But because new plants and factories benefit from more efficient technology and processing methods, these efforts to shut down inefficient, outdated production capacity are critical for reducing the growth of China’s carbon emissions.
  • Job Performance Rating System: The government also established in 2007 an evaluation system to monitor progress in meeting energy savings targets, under which provincial officials and enterprise leaders who did not meet their targets wouldn’t receive promotions or annual awards. The central government has already seen promising results for motivating provincial and local officials to meet their targets. While environmental enforcement remains a serious problem in China, this bureaucratic job evaluation system is a very powerful tool in China to ensure that targets are achieved. We can expect in the next Five-Year Plan, to be released later this year, that officials will now also be evaluated based on their performance in meeting their carbon intensity targets.
  • Renewable Energy Development: China’s ambitious plans to develop its renewable energy resources are also integral to reaching its carbon intensity target. In 2008, China’s  renewable energy use was equivalent to 250 million tons of standard coal, avoiding 600 million tons of CO2,roughly equal to the entire annual emissions of Canada.  China’s installed wind capacity has grown exponentially in recent years, and at the end of 2009 China passed Spain to rank third in the world in installed wind capacity, behind the United States and Germany.
  • Meanwhile, China’s solar industry has also taken off. China created two solar subsidy programs in 2009 (the Golden Roof and Golden Sun programs) to boost domestic solar installation, and has become the world leader in manufacturing solar PV panels in just a few years. China also announced several utility-scale renewable energy projects last year, including the world’s largest wind farm, a 10 GW “Three Gorges of Wind Power” project in Gansu Province, and a 2 GW solar power plant in Northern China using Arizona-based First Solar’s thin-film solar PV panels. While there continue to be challenges connecting renewable projects to the grid, the government is taking steps to address these issues by investing in smart grid technology and amending the Renewable Energy Law to strengthen grid connection rules.
  • China plans to invest $7.3 billion in its smart grid in 2010, just slightly more than the United States. China’s 2009 green investment plan also included $1.5 billion in subsidies over the next three years to develop alternative-energy vehicles?. China is investing $9 billion a month on clean energy?, and investment in clean energy R&D under its 863 Program is soaring at over 20 percent per year. Renewable energy jobs in China reached 1.12 million in 2008 and are climbing by 100,000 a year.

Ramping Up Since Copenhagen

As President Obama noted in his State of the Union address last week, countries like China “aren’t standing still.” China has indeed taken several other noteworthy steps in the weeks following the Copenhagen meeting.

Last week, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection issued an official document encouraging monitoring of source-level greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in localities “where conditions permit” and setting forth plans to carry out a pilot project to monitor carbon dioxide, methane and N20 at a number of sites.   This is another step towards building the capacity to monitor GHGs in China, and comes soon after the agreement on cooperation signed between the US EPA and China’s NDRC in November of last year to collaborate on the development of a GHG inventory for China.

In addition, just one week after Copenhagen ended, China’s legislature passed amendments to its Renewable Energy Law, which was originally enacted in 2006. Although we need to wait for implementing regulations to flesh out much of the detail, the amendments illustrate China’s continued commitment to expanding its renewable energy supply and overcoming some of the barriers that have stood in the way of achieving this goal. The amendments contain several notable changes, including: (1) creating stronger incentives for grid companies to connect and purchase renewable power through mandatory renewable power targets, (2) encouraging grid companies to invest in smart grid technology, (3) streamlining the government fund that finances renewable energy R&D and deployment and (4) strengthening central government oversight of renewable energy planning and development at the provincial level. The passage of these amendments at such a critical time illustrates that China is pushing ahead with its vows to clean up its energy supply and is able to respond quickly to new challenges as they arise.

Finally, last week, the Chinese government formally established a National Energy Commission, at the highest level possible, headed by Premier Wen Jiabao.  The creation of the NEC is a positive development because it will allow for better coordination of energy policy, including raising energy efficiency, curbing emissions, and strengthening China’s energy security. When China releases its 12th Five Year Plan for 2011-15 later this year, it will set forth in greater detail the steps it will take to meet the climate commitments it has set out for itself. Both the creation of the National Energy Commission and the drafting of the 12th Five Year Plan are crucial steps that lay the groundwork for China to meet its targets.

President Obama also noted in his speech last week that “the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy,” and countries like China are “making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs.” (The media has taken note of China’s efforts too, as seen in this recent New York Times article proclaiming “China Leading Global Race to Make Clean Energy.”)  Taking action on climate change is an opportunity for both the U.S. and China to develop the clean energy technologies and industries of the future that will create hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs, strengthen their economies and increase energy security.

Although there is still much to be done to prepare for the next U.N. climate conference in November, China, the U.S., and many other countries have shown through their support of the Copenhagen Accord and the submission of their pledges that they are ready and willing to come together to take the next steps needed to reach a global agreement on climate change and transition to a clean energy future.

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* The BASIC countries are Brazil, South Africa, India, and China.

This post originally appeared on NRDC’s Switchboard blog

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5 Myths about Coal, Oil, & China http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=21 http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=21#comments Fri, 18 Dec 2009 20:26:42 +0000 admin http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=21 Myth #1 China has paid little attention to energy efficiency, preferring to build countless coal-fired power plants instead

Typically, energy demand grows faster than GDP in a developing. The graph below shows the opposite–GDP has grown at a much faster rate than energy demand in China. This was policy, not happenstance, Dung Shao Ping announced in [...]]]> Myth #1 China has paid little attention to energy efficiency, preferring to build countless coal-fired power plants instead

Typically, energy demand grows faster than GDP in a developing. The graph below shows the opposite-GDP has grown at a much faster rate than energy demand in China. This was policy, not happenstance, Dung Shao Ping announced in 1979 that China was going to quadruple GDP and only double energy growth.

Myth #2 China, because of its enormous coal use, has emitted more CO2 than any other nation

As you can see from the graph below, China’s per capita CO2 emissions (represented by the red line) are much lower than the world (the blue line), the United States (the orange line).

Myth #3 China’s per capita coal consumption is the highest in the world

In fact, China is in 6th place behind (in descending order) South Africa, the United States, South Korea, Canada and Germany.

Myth #4 China’s vast coal reserves, which it is bound to use, will swamp any effort to tackle global climate

China’s coal reserves pail in comparison to Austrailia’s, the U.S.’s or even Kazakhstan

Myth #5 China is hogging the world’s oil imports

Just isn’t true-see graph below.

source: http://china.lbl.gov/news/dr-mark-levine-presented-world-affairs-council

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China Transparency Pledge Moves Copenhagen Talks Forward http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=24 http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=24#comments Fri, 18 Dec 2009 18:04:56 +0000 bfinamore http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=24

Barbara Finamore Alliance President / China Program Director, NRDC Beijing

China advanced hope for a global climate accord Thursday, saying it would enhance the information it makes available to other countries about its carbon emissions and submit that reporting to some form of international review.

This opens the door to a potential agreement that ensures transparency in a [...]]]>

Barbara Finamore
Alliance President / China Program Director, NRDC Beijing

China advanced hope for a global climate accord Thursday, saying it would enhance the information it makes available to other countries about its carbon emissions and submit that reporting to some form of international review.

This opens the door to a potential agreement that ensures transparency in a way that is not intrusive and respects China’s sovereignty. It is a welcome sign of how serious the Chinese are about taking action against climate change.

The announcement was made by He Yafei, China’s vice minister for foreign affairs, at a press conference at the UN climate summit.  He said China would enhance and improve national communication to improve transparency, and that it would consider international exchange, dialogue and cooperation on these issues.

Transparency has been a sticking point between U.S. negotiators and the Chinese. The apparent opening came hours after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced the United States would participate in a global climate fund to reach $100 billion a year by 2020. (See transcript here.)  The money would be used to help low income countries cope with the ills of climate change.

Neither Secretary Clinton nor Vice Minister He drew a direct link between the moves. Both announcements, though, reflected forward motion by the two countries. Together, China and the United States account for about 40 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. For that reason, the two countries are regarded as essential to getting a global climate change accord.

President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed to forge a strategic partnership around climate and energy issues when they met last month in Beijing.

China’s willingness to engage in a constructive way on the issue of international reporting and review reflects the spirit of the new partnership. We look forward to continued progress on this front.

This post originally appeared on NRDC’s Switchboard blog

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Clean Tech in Copenhagen: A Key Solution to Climate Change http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=20 http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=20#comments Wed, 16 Dec 2009 17:32:49 +0000 admin http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=20

Barbara Finamore Alliance President / China Program Director, NRDC Beijing

Clean tech is very much on the radar screen here in Copenhagen as a key solution to climate change.  The U.S.-based Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) have just released a report entitled “Seizing the Solar Solution: Combating Climate Change through [...]]]>

Barbara Finamore
Alliance President / China Program Director, NRDC Beijing

Clean tech is very much on the radar screen here in Copenhagen as a key solution to climate change.  The U.S.-based Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) have just released a report entitled “Seizing the Solar Solution: Combating Climate Change through Accelerated Deployment.”  The report estimates that a combination of photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar power could deliver 15 percent of U.S. electricity by 2020. Moreover, along with European PV, these technologies could reduce CO2 emissions by nearly 1 billion tons annually while creating some 6.3 million jobs.

Our team was present on Monday in the U.S. Pavilion as Secretary of Energy Steven Chu launched a new $350 million, five-year Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative (Climate REDI). This initiative was spearheaded by our former NRDC colleague Rick Duke, now U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy for Climate Policy.  As shown in more detail here, the initiative will be designed to cut the cost of existing clean technologies, such as advanced energy efficient appliances, solar home systems and LED lamps, in order to make them affordable for people without access to electricity. In addition to lowering costs, the program will focus on enforcing quality assurance mechanisms for these products and coordinating international standards, labels, information programs and incentives for high-efficiency appliances in order to dramatically scale-up market penetration worldwide. The program will receive an $85 million infusion from the U.S. which is separate from the U.S. contribution to the major climate financing package that will likely be announced later this week. It is also separate from the $150 million U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center that was announced during President Obama’s trip to China in November.

I gave a presentation this afternoon about unlocking the potential of energy efficiency in China at an exciting side event hosted by the Alliance to Save Energy entitled From Paradox to Paradigm: The Role of Energy Efficiency in Creating Low-Carbon Economies, chaired by European Parliament Members Claude Turmes (Luxembourg) and Lena Ek (Sweden), featuring remarks from the CEOs of Rockwool International and Siemens Building Automation. (Side note: Frances Beinecke was slated to give this presentation but she was stuck in the Bella Center registration line for most of the day).

Frances’ presentation astutely pointed out that energy efficiency represents over one-third of the total CO2 emission reduction potential in China, and could avoid about 2.4 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions by 2030.  Most of China’s impressive success to date in slashing its energy intensity has been focused on the industrial sector, which constitutes about two-thirds of its energy demand. But the only way for China to achieve its new carbon intensity target will be to focus aggressively on unlocking the energy efficiency potential in China’s buildings.

In NRDC’s joint report with the Boston Consulting Group, From Grey to Green: How Energy Efficient Buildings Can Help Make China’s Urbanization Sustainable, we showed that reducing energy use in all of China’s buildings by 70% (which we did in our pathbreaking Agenda 21 project, the first LEED-certified green building in China), would avoid the need to build 550 new coal-fired power plants in China each year.  But even a more modest goal – cutting energy use by half in only 5 percent of existing buildings and 60 percent of new buildings by 2015 – would be equivalent to removing all the cars from the roads in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Copenhagen is swarming with representatives from clean tech companies and organizations eager to take advantage of the new opportunities that an international climate agreement would unlock.  For example, I attended a reception hosted by the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Energy and spoke to a number of people interested in collaborating on clean tech projects in China, including Katherine Hamilton, President of the GridWise Alliance, and Jared Blum, President of the Polyisocyanurate Insulate Manufacturers Association. A group of 200 Chinese companies and organizations also issued a joint statement in Copenhagen supporting China’s new carbon intensity target and vowing to explore models of low carbon economic growth (see my colleague Jingjing Qian’s blog here).

Over the last several years, China has taken dramatic steps to grow its clean energy industry, in part because it recognizes that climate change and energy security pose significant threats to China’s own economic and social stability. It is using a number of smart policy tools to foster the growth of renewable energy, including targets, subsidies and feed-in tariffs (we hear that a national solar feed-in tariff of 1.15 RMB/kWh will be rolled out after Copenhagen).  As a result, China has been steadily improving its ranking on clean tech development.  According to Ernst & Young’s latest report on global renewable energy, China has moved ahead of Germany to become one of the top two most attractive locations in the world in which to invest in renewable energy projects, second only to the United States.

Tom Friedman has skillfully chronicled the rapid growth of China’s clean tech industry and warned the US to ignore it at our peril. The best way for the US to continue its leadership role on clean tech is to enact strong climate and energy legislation. But we should also recognize that China’s efforts to promote renewable energy are serving to bring down costs worldwide and provide jobs all along the global supply chain. I discussed this with Polly Shaw, Director of External Relations at Suntech America, at last month’s US-China Green Tech Summit in Beijing.  Polly said that Suntech, a China-based company which recently opened its first solar PV manufacturing factory in Arizona, has boosted the bottom line for American polysilicon suppliers such as MEMO of Houston Texas (about 70% of the value of a panel is polysilicon), as well as American thin film production equipment manufacturer Applied Materials, not to mention producers of all the wires, cables, inverters and trackers that go into a PV panel. Seems that the solutions to climate change are becoming as global as climate change itself.

This post originally appeared on NRDC’s Switchboard blog

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CLIMATE CHANGE IS CREATING CLIMATE POVERTY… BUT YOU CAN HELP http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=18 http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=18#comments Mon, 14 Dec 2009 21:02:31 +0000 admin http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=18 Chaoyang city in northeast China’s Liaoning Province, has suffered one of the worst droughts in 60 years, hitting more than 2 million hectares of farmland and affecting 3 million people. “Because of the drought, my crop… all withered,” farmer Song Boulin says, “I have three others to feed in my family, and, except for cabbages, [...]]]> Chaoyang city in northeast China’s Liaoning Province, has suffered one of the worst droughts in 60 years, hitting more than 2 million hectares of farmland and affecting 3 million people. “Because of the drought, my crop… all withered,” farmer Song Boulin says, “I have three others to feed in my family, and, except for cabbages, we have nothing to eat.” Normally at this time of year, crops would be heaped on roofs and in courtyards, says Song, 56. “But this year, many villagers like me had no harvest because of the severe drought.”

In the last four years, global warming has been blamed for worsening droughts around Liaoning and throughout China. According to Xinhua, China has more than 24,800 natural lakes, but they are disappearing at a rate of about 20 per year.

Climate change has become the new threat for China’s abject poor, affecting an estimated 40 million people. Almost 95 percent of them live in climate endangered areas.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Progress Report 2009 of China’s Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change, China’s annual mean temperature has risen steadily for the past 12 years, reaching 9.6 degrees centigrade last year, 0.7 degrees higher than the previous year. As the temperature rises, droughts and sandstorms increase in frequency and scale

“In China, poverty-stricken places have low emissions of greenhouse gases, but they are affected most by the effects of climate change,” says Lin Erda, director of agriculture and climate change research center of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

How you can help

Increased support for energy efficiency in China can help to alleviate climate poverty by reducing China’s dependence on coal-fire powered plants. The Chinese government understands the importance of energy efficiency and has invited the Alliance to support their efforts to implement energy efficiency programs at the central and provincial level. With additional support, we can continue to expand our efforts and help 1.3 billion people experience healthier, happier lives. You can show your support by joining our Facebook Cause and / or becoming an Alliance Partner.

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Energy Efficiency: The Human Connection http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=17 http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=17#comments Fri, 11 Dec 2009 23:08:11 +0000 trosecra http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=17 In supporting the work of the Alliance, you help save lives and improve the quality of life for 1/5 of the world’s population. China’s air pollution causes tangible, detrimental effects in Chinese citizen’s day to day lives including decreased sunlight, contaminated food supply, decreased supply of potable water, and increased in health issues and mortality [...]]]> In supporting the work of the Alliance, you help save lives and improve the quality of life for 1/5 of the world’s population. China’s air pollution causes tangible, detrimental effects in Chinese citizen’s day to day lives including decreased sunlight, contaminated food supply, decreased supply of potable water, and increased in health issues and mortality rates.

Globally, China is home to 16 of the 20 cities with the most polluted air. China’s deteriorating air quality has lead to a serious rise in health problems, including acute respiratory inflammation, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. An estimated 200 Chinese cities fall short of WHO standards for the airborne particulates that are responsible for respiratory diseases. According to a recent World Bank report, some 300,000 to 400,000 people die in China by diseases linked to air pollution. And China’s Ministry of Science and Technology reports that 50,000 newborn babies are killed by air pollution a year.

Basic human necessities, water, food and sunlight, are affected by China’s air pollution. A study by U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory showed a continual decrease in sunlight, averaging 4.43% watts a square meter per decade since 1954. This decline in sunlight occurred despite a decrease in China’s cloud cover. China has limited crop land and water supply, with only one third of the world’s average land availability per capita and 27% of the world’s average water resources per capita. Acidification now affects some 30 percent of China’s cropland. Without necessary action, a worsening environmental situation will lead to a 40% decrease in cereal production. In addition, more than half of the rivers in China are too polluted to serve as a source of drinking water, and the situation is exacerbated by climate change. China’s western glaciers will shrink by over 27%, threatening long term water supply to several of the most populated river basins in the world.

How can you help?

China’s deteriorating air quality is a result primarily of farming activities, vehicles, and power plants. The majority of China’s air pollution originates from the country’s heavy dependence on coal, which makes up about 70 percent of its energy mix.

Energy efficiency programs help to prevent the construction of coal-fire powered plants. The Chinese government understands the importance of energy efficiency and has invited the Alliance to support their efforts to implement energy efficiency programs at the central and provincial level. With additional support from our Partners, we can continue to expand our efforts and help 1.3 billion people experience healthier, happier lives.

You can support our work by joining the Alliance Facebook Cause and / or becoming an Alliance Partner.

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My First Day in Copenhagen http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=15 http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=15#comments Wed, 09 Dec 2009 17:37:13 +0000 admin http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=15 Barbara Finamore Alliance President / China Program Director, NRDC Beijing

I knew I’ve been working in China too long when I couldn’t stop comparing everything in Copenhagen to Beijing. I couldn’t even pass for an ordinary American to the immigration officer – my passport gave me away. He took one look at all the visas [...]]]> Alliance President Barbara FinamoreBarbara Finamore
Alliance President / China Program Director, NRDC Beijing

I knew I’ve been working in China too long when I couldn’t stop comparing everything in Copenhagen to Beijing. I couldn’t even pass for an ordinary American to the immigration officer – my passport gave me away. He took one look at all the visas and entry and exit stamps covering the pages and said to me “This sure isn’t like China, is it?”

In many ways he is right. For example, I saw more bicycles on the streets of Copenhagen today than I’ve seen in Beijing since I lived there in the early 1990s, when there were no private cars and most people relied on bicycles as their primary form of transportation. Now Copenhagen is one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the world, with 36% of the population commuting to work by bike for a daily total of over 1.3 million kilometers. The government wants that number to increase to 50% by 2015 and in addition to building a world-class system of interconnected bicycle routes and allowing bicycles on the metro, it imposes a 200 percent tax on new cars. It’s a far cry from today’s Beijing, whose car population reached 3.96 million last week, and at the rate it’s going, will reach the 4 million mark in a couple of weeks.

Yet I was struck by some unexpected similarities as well. As I walked through Copenhagen Airport this morning, I was reminded of nothing more than my regular trips through Beijing’s Capital International Airport, which was named the World’s Best Airport by Conde Nast Traveler magazine this year. It was more than just the bright atmosphere and ease of service in both airports that rang a bell. What really resonated was the fact that most of the billboards and posters that shouted at me from all directions were advertising eco-friendly, green and energy efficient products. Now that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone here in Copenhagen as it prepares to welcome an estimated 25,000 negotiators, NGOs and journalists intensely interested in climate change. But the fact that the Beijing Airport features the same theme, long after the hordes of Olympic visitors have left town, is a small but important signal – clearly pointing out which way the city is moving.

Beijing has a long way to go before it can achieve a level of environmental quality similar to Copenhagen, whose inner harbor is so clean that it can be used for swimming. But I have no doubt it will get there.

When I worked at the Beijing office of the United Nations Development Programme from 1990-93, everyone’s main complaint was the stench that emanated from the fetid Liangmahe canal nearby. I had little desire to return to that area as a result, and managed to stay away for many years until I joined California EPA Secretary Linda Adams and her Special Advisor Margret Kim for a meeting at UNDP last spring.

I could hardly believe my eyes and nose when I returned to the canal, now transformed into a sparkling stream edged by willow trees and flowers in full bloom. And as I watched, a solitary swimmer in a green bathing cap made his way upstream. A fitting symbol for Beijing’s green efforts - and hopefully for its CO2 reduction efforts as well. Here’s to Hopenhagen!

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China is the largest emitter of non-US mercury emissions in US http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=14 http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=14#comments Mon, 07 Dec 2009 20:02:51 +0000 admin http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=14 Of the of the 140-170 tons per year of mercury currently being deposited onto the United States mainland each year, 2/3 originates in other countries. Of the approximately 100 tons arriving from other countries, roughly half originates on the Asian continent, mostly from China. Indian subcontinent emissions are also large; but due to geography and [...]]]> Of the of the 140-170 tons per year of mercury currently being deposited onto the United States mainland each year, 2/3 originates in other countries. Of the approximately 100 tons arriving from other countries, roughly half originates on the Asian continent, mostly from China. Indian subcontinent emissions are also large; but due to geography and prevailing wind patterns, they appear to play a less prominent role in U.S. deposition.

Mercury in the food we eat

The most common source of mercury exposure for Americans is tuna fish. Tuna does not contain the highest concentration of mercury of any fish, but since Americans eat much more tuna than they do other mercury-laden fish, such as swordfish or shark, it poses a greater health threat. (For more, see NRDC guides to mercury levels in fish and to eating tuna safely.)

Subsistence and sports fishermen who eat their catch can be at a particularly high risk of mercury poisoning if they fish regularly in contaminated waters. Across the United States, mercury pollution is known to have contaminated 12 million acres of lakes, estuaries, and wetlands (30 percent of the total), and 473,000 miles of streams, rivers, and coasts. And many waterways have not even been tested. In 2003, 44 states issued fish consumption advisories, warning citizens to limit how often they eat certain types of fish caught in the state’s waters because they are contaminated with mercury.

Energy efficiency & Mercury: What’s the connection?

Coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury air emissions worldwide. Currently, coal-fired power plants supply seventy-five percent of China’s energy; in the next eight years, China is expected to add more than 560 plants coal plants — a pace of more than one new plant each week. China is not the sole source for all this transoceanic mercury pollution, but the robust expansion of its economy in recent decades implicates it as the primary source.

Energy efficiency offers a viable, environmentally sound alternative to the construction of additional coal fire powered plants. It is the cheapest, fastest solution available with already existing technology. The China-US Energy Efficiency Alliance is currently working with Chinese officials to implement large scale energy efficiency programs throughout China. Its work in the Jiangsu province has thus far resulted in a savings of 2 billion kWh of electricity annually and reducedCO2 emissions by1.84 million tons

How you can help

In supporting the Alliance by either becoming a corporate partner, or joining our Facebook cause, you can help Alliance can help ensure that Jiangsu’s strategic blueprint is implemented, meaning that by 2015 they will save the equivalent of 26 large coal-powered powerplants, reducing total coal consumption by 167 millionand eliminating 613 and 8.6 million metric tons of carbon and sulfur dioxide emissions, respectively.

Sources:

http://mydocs.epri.com/docs/public/000000000001014438.pdf

http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/sources.asp

For information about how to safeguard your health against mercury, see http://www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/protect.asp



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The Obama Administration & the Alliance http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=13 http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=13#comments Mon, 07 Dec 2009 18:53:48 +0000 admin http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=13

In the past year, two individuals affiliated with the Alliance have been appointed / invited by the Obama administration to work on climate change issues.

In January 2009 Diana Farrell joined U.S. President Obama’s administration as deputy director of the National Economic Council and deputy economic advisor to [...]]]>

In the past year, two individuals affiliated with the Alliance have been appointed / invited by the Obama administration to work on climate change issues.

In January 2009 Diana Farrell joined U.S. President Obama’s administration as deputy director of the National Economic Council and deputy economic advisor to the President. Diana Farrell, former director of Mckinsey Global Institute (MGI), spoke at the 2008 Alliance Roundtable about MGI’s research on global energy productivity and the opportunities available to reduce energy intensity in China and globally. (To view an overview of her presentation, click China’s Energy Productivity Opportunity ). After appointment, Farrell was immediately tasked with working together with NEC chief Larry Summers to help implement the administration’s stimulus package.

Mark Levine, group leader at LBNL and member of the Alliance Leadership Council, is currently working, half time, with Assistant Secretary David Sandalow at Department of Energy’s Office of Policy & International Affairs. Click to see a Mark’s recent discussion at an the Alliance Portland Roundtable event on energy efficiency policy in China .

Levine has been tasked with working out collaborative agreements and activities between China and the US to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. His first assignment was to develop a paper describing clean energy R&D centers to support joint work between China and the US. This has been well received by both China and US governments.

Levine is currently working to develop a paper on cooperating and collaborating to reduce GHG emissions in the short term. The final version of this document was expected in September 2009. With respect to the content of the paper, Levine was considering proposing a joint commitment to work on several policy areas to “share each other’s expertise and try to craft programs based on each other’s experience.”

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China’s Carbon Intensity Target http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=12 http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=12#comments Mon, 30 Nov 2009 21:41:50 +0000 admin http://www.chinauseealliance.org/blog/?p=12

Barbara Finamore Alliance President / China Program Director, NRDC Beijing

China yesterday announced that Premier Wen Jiabao will attend the Copenhagen climate summit and that he will bring with him a target for China of reducing carbon intensity by [...]]]>

China yesterday announced that Premier Wen Jiabao will attend the Copenhagen climate summit and that he will bring with him a target for China of reducing carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.  Coming a day after the announcement across the Pacific that President Obama will attend the beginning of the summit, bringing a commitment to reduce U.S. emissions “in the range of 17%” from 2005 levels by 2020, this means that we now know what the world’s two largest emitters will be bringing to the table when the world’s countries gather in Copenhagen.

The official announcement (in Chinese here) notes that on November 25, Premier Wen Jiabao and the State Council standing committee met and decided upon the 2020 target and corresponding measures to achieve it.  Of note are the following points:

  • 1.) What exactly does the carbon intensity target cover? China will reduce its carbon intensity, the CO2 emitted per unit GDP, by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. This carbon intensity target will measure only the CO2 emissions from energy consumption and industrial activity, the source of most of China’s emissions, and does not take into account efforts to reduce emissions or increase sinks from land use and forestry. This makes sense given that estimating emissions from land use and forestry is less precise than measuring emissions from fuel combustion and industrial activity, both of which are also more tightly linked to GDP than land use and forestry.
  • 2.) How will this be implemented? In order to measure the progress it is making in achieving this target, China will include the carbon intensity target in its medium and long-term social and economic development plans and develop corresponding statistics, monitoring and evaluation systems to measure progress. Thus, we can expect that the next five year plan (2010-2015) will include systems for monitoring and evaluating officials’ and enterprises’ performance in meeting the specific carbon intensity reduction targets allocated to them, similar to how the government implemented its target setting and official evaluation system for the twenty percent energy intensity reduction target in the current 11th Five Year Plan.
  • 3.) Will the target be binding internationally? At the moment, the carbon intensity target is only a voluntary action and is not intended to be binding internationally. However, the carbon intensity reduction targets will be mandatory (”???”) domestically for provinces and enterprises within China, similar to how the current energy intensity targets are mandatory, with consequences for officials of provinces and enterprises who do not meet their assigned targets.
  • 4.) Is the 40 – 45% target significant? Although there is debate about how much of a reduction this 40 to 45 percent carbon intensity reduction target is from a “business as usual” scenario, we should keep in mind a few points. First, how we define “business as usual” matters. As part of its current 11th Five Year Plan, China took on a goal of reducing its energy intensity by 20% from 2006-10, which has led to a coordinated energy efficiency program that includes actions such as closing down smaller, inefficient power plants and outdated, inefficient iron and steel, cement and other manufacturing capacity, and improving the efficiency of the Top 1,000 energy consuming enterprises. If China succeeds in reducing its energy intensity by 20% by 2010, this would result in the avoidance of a billion tons of CO2 emissions. China should be given credit for these efforts and not penalized for taking early action.

Second, the International Energy Agency has noted that the commitments from China and the US are roughly in line with the actions they have estimated to be necessary to reach a concentration of 450 parts CO2 per million, what scientists have deemed is necessary to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius.  While we would hope that both China and the U.S. will seek to raise the level of their ambition, both proposals are substantial and require real improvements in energy efficiency and low-carbon energy to achieve.

The other important thing to remember is the significance of the carbon intensity target for creating the proper framework and incentives for reducing emissions.  As noted above, a carbon intensity target will require each province and major enterprise to measure, report and reduce their CO2 emissions and energy consumption, year-on-year, acting as a driver for greater efficiency and renewables.  In this way, the carbon intensity target is similar to the US greenhouse gas mandatory reporting rule or the cap-and-trade system in the current climate legislation before Congress, which put in place the proper incentives and systems to transition to a low-carbon, clean energy economy.  Provinces, local governments and enterprises will need to establish and improve systems for measuring and reporting emissions, and there will be increasing pressure on these enterprises and provinces to enact measures within their development plans for making continuous improvements in energy efficiency and renewable energy.  At the national level, China will need to continue and accelerate its policies to boost energy efficiency and renewables, and it will need to build its capacity to measure and report emissions for its national greenhouse gas inventory on a yearly basis (something which EPA and China’s National Development and Reform Commission have recently agreed to cooperate on).

Just as important as the targets they have set for themselves, China and the US must continue to accelerate their efforts to develop low carbon economies based on energy efficiency, renewables, and the development of clean technologies such as smart grids and electric vehicles.  Both countries stand to benefit from the transition to a clean energy economy, by growing new clean industries and jobs, reducing their independence on dirty fossil fuels, and reducing their contribution to climate change and environmental damage.  China can achieve a substantial reduction in its carbon intensity while continuing to grow its economy and providing an improved standard of living and a better environment for its citizens.

China’s carbon intensity target is certainly a step in the right direction, and it provides the right incentives for future improvements in reducing emissions.  Following the U.S.’s own emissions reduction announcement and the recent bilateral clean energy initiatives announced during President Obama’s visit, we are beginning to see the outlines for a meaningful framework agreement in Copenhagen and a foundation for both countries to demonstrate leadership in addressing climate change.

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Other Link

This post originally appeared on NRDC’s Switchboard blog

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