Low-carbon concept counts in progress
Updated: 2011-12-19 07:49
By Wang Hui (China Daily)
When the United Nations Climate Change Conference opened in Durban, South Africa earlier this month, the Chinese government's resolve and endeavor to actively respond to the global issue was once again evident. Given the country's impressive cohesion and willingness to shoulder greater international responsibilities, there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of the nation's efforts to address climate change.
In fact, China's endeavor to protect the environment has moved beyond industrial policies and pollution control to deeper and broader aspects in recent years. The whole of society is being encouraged to adopt a low-carbon lifestyle and different localities are now more environmentally minded when mapping out plans for local economic and social development.
More and more officials at the local level now realize that climate change is not only a global and national issue but also a challenge they have to face in their everyday work. Indeed, to a certain extent, whether China can fulfill its pledges in emission cuts depends on whether different localities can effectively do their part.
In this regard, it is imperative to build up the capacity of local governments to pursue sustainable social and economic development. For many years, they have been reliant on a development pattern that emphasizes high GDP growth, ignoring the environmental costs. Local officials need a totally different mindset and new development mode so that they can address the challenge of climate change.
It is, therefore, heartening to see China's efforts to work with international partners to strengthen local governments' abilities to adapt more effectively to climate change. For example, officials in charge of local social and economic planning in northwest Qinghai province, Harbin of northeast Heilongjiang province and Hefei of East China's Anhui province have benefited from a bilateral cooperation project between China and Australia.
The project is funded by the Australian government and jointly implemented by China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Trade to Future Training Center.
"Through a series of workshops and field visits, the participating Chinese officials have been able to form their own strategies to tackle climate change at the advice of Australian experts and based on experience drawn from their Australian counterparts," said Huo Enquan, deputy director of NDRC's international cooperation center.
Chinese localities and agencies have also formed partnerships with Ku-Ring-Gai Council of New South Wales in Australia, which has developed a climate change adaptation-planning model that can be modified for use by any city.
"Our model is a form of cost benefit analysis that allows decision makers to better understand how a planned adaptation will impact the local area and reduce the risks associated with the changed weather patterns in the future," said Jenny Scott, sustainability program leader with Ku-Ring-Gai Council.
Such cooperation will give different localities in China a bigger role in shoring up the country's climate change goals.
China aims to cut carbon emissions by 40-45 percent in 2020 from the 2005 level. The central government has also vowed to increase the proportion of non-fossil energy by 15 percent in 2020. All of which demand governments at the local level make their due contributions to the national endeavor.
There is an added bonus in this, as by actively adapting to climate change, local governments will also make their products more competitive. Hence, localities need to come up with their own strategies to address climate change. They need to adjust their economic and energy structure and change their development mode.
A growth mode relying on quantity rather than quality is futureless and must be abandoned. Localities need to ensure that low-carbon and environmentally friendly development are at the heart of their plans.
The author is a senior writer with China Daily.
(China Daily 12/19/2011 page8)