Believed by many as the next superpower¹, China also has the opportunity to be viewed as an international leader in energy efficiency solutions and environmental best practices. With its flourishing economy, China can decide whether to accelerate or decelerate implementation of initiatives designed to combat climate change. Whatever steps China decides to take towards energy use and carbon emission reduction will significantly influence the international community’s approach to reversing environmental trends brought about by rising global temperature.
But there’s another reason why the world looks to China to raise the bar in carbon emission management. Although the Chinese government has been adamant in its decision to continue using huge amount of energy to fuel the country’s burgeoning economy, it has also taken initial strides to counter high levels of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2e).
A testament to China’s efforts against CO2e is its current five-year plan, which projects economic growth of about 40% from 2010 to 2015, but at a 17% fall in carbon intensity (the CO2 output for each unit of GDP growth). This plan has a longer-term goal of boosting energy efficiency by 40-45% from 2005 levels by 2020.² Besides having a laid out energy efficiency solution, the country created in 2010 the National Energy Commission to better coordinate the various bodies involved in the energy sector.³
Most recently, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) drafted legislation that puts China on a path to introduce a carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS) within three to five years. Aimed primarily at heavy carbon emitters like coal-fired power plants and steel producers, emission caps would be established based on industry benchmarks, and those companies whose carbon emissions are below their allotment would receive carbon trade permits.⁴
China is also investing significantly in the development of renewable energy (284 GW of hydro, 100 GW of wind, 10 GW of solar by 2015), nuclear energy (over 25 nuclear reactors under construction), transmission (West-East electricity corridors), and energy efficiency solutions (16% decrease in energy intensity over 2011-2015). One key project that is expected to become fully operational this year is the Three Gorges Dam, which will produce 18,200 MW or approximately 24% of the current total hydroelectric capacity in all of China.⁵
These laudable moves show that China’s efforts are geared towards finding ways to safeguard the environment without compromising economic growth. But for China to be successful in stemming the growth of its carbon emissions, it needs help in evaluating, recommending, and implementing its carbon-reducing initiatives.
Environmentalists and NGOs think that these steps are too little for the economic giant. But experts from FirstCarbon Solutions, a member company of ADEC Group, headquartered in Manila, Philippines with offices throughout Asia, have a unique perspective and think otherwise. According to one of its Professional Service Group executives, “To effectively lower carbon emissions, China should set short, mid, and long term goals, which are already in place. This genuine desire of the Chinese government will have a lasting impact on the global environment.”
Fishman, T.C. (2005). China, Inc. How the rise of the next superpower challenges America and the world. New York: Simon & Schuster.