Blueprint sets out control of emissions

Updated: 2011-12-07 07:11

By Li Jing and Lan Lan (China Daily)

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DURBAN, South Africa - China laid out a detailed plan to control greenhouse gas emissions in the coming five years, a measure designed to deliver on its pledge for carbon intensity reduction by 2020.

The country aims to reduce its carbon emissions for each unit of GDP by 17 percent by 2015 from 2010 levels, according to the blueprint, which has been approved by the State Council and will be released in the coming days.

In 2009, China pledged to cut carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

The 17 percent national goal has been allocated to provincial governments, which will be held responsible if they fail to meet the targets, the blueprint says.

For instance, Guangdong province, China's major manufacturing hub, has been given the most challenging task - cutting its carbon intensity by 19.5 percent - while Tianjin and Shanghai, together with Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, should see a drop of 19 percent in the next five years.

Qinghai province and the Tibet autonomous region, among the poorest regions in China, have a relatively easy target of 10 percent, the lowest in the country.

"The accomplishment of carbon intensity targets will be included in the appraisal system for local officials," the blueprint says.

This is the first time China has released carbon intensity goals for each provincial-level region, an apparent attempt to make greenhouse gas control part of social and economic growth, experts said.

These targets are based on previously released provincial energy intensity goals, and each province's potential to develop renewable energy has also been taken into account, according to He Jiankun, director of the Institute of Low Carbon Economy at Beijing-based Tsinghua University.

"Local officials are already responsible for reaching energy intensity targets, and now they are tied to carbon intensity targets," He said. "The next step will be setting targets of energy use controls for provinces."

"These three sets of targets will form a systematic program to improve energy efficiency and expand the use of clean energy in China," He said.

"These efforts show China is really serious about controlling its carbon footprint, regardless of the results of the international climate talks," he said.

Zhang Jianyu, China program director of US-based Environmental Defense Fund, said linking green targets with appraisal systems for officials proved to be effective in previous national programs to tackle pollution and improve energy efficiency.

"The practice does work in China very well, though local officials are not necessarily subject to any legal penalties if they fail," Zhang said.

The blueprint also laid out plans to establish statistical and verification systems for greenhouse gas emissions at both national and provincial levels and for individual enterprises.

China will also establish voluntary carbon emission offset mechanisms and pilot carbon cap-and-trade programs, according to the blueprint.

Industries including iron and steel, electricity generation, coal, petrochemical, transportation and construction are urged to issue their own plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Major enterprises will be requested to report and verify their carbon emissions.