Inside China’s shift to a low-carbon economy — what it means for business


Shanghai at night. Credit: Shutterstock/fuyu liu

China’s announcement of how it plans to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions represents the clearest signal to date that a major structural shift away from carbon-intensive development is underway in the world’s second-largest economy.

…The private sector is key to delivering on this vision, and the Chinese government’s announcement is likely to have far-reaching impacts on commercial interests in China. Companies operating in China — whether domestically owned, state owned or multinational with supply chains in the country — will need to grapple with these new policies.

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UN Climate Head Praises Chinese Efforts To Curb Climate Change


The UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres. Credit: UN Climate Change | Flickr

Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, told reporters during a recent interview that China understands the importance of making such green efforts. She explained that the country follows the most stringent standards for energy efficiency for building construction and transportation.

Figueres added that the Chinese government is faced with growing pressure from the public as more and more of its citizens call for a reduction in air pollution caused by widespread use of coal.

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Beijing Is Finally Getting Serious About Climate Change

U.S. President Barack Obama Visits China

U.S. President, Barack Obama and China President, Xi Jinping. Credit: Foreign Policy magazine

Alliance President, Barbara Finamore, contributed to an article in Foreign Policy magazine on China’s growth trajectory and its energy intensity reduction goals.

“China will need a greater annual reduction rate of carbon intensity than most developed countries to reach its commitment of reducing carbon intensity by 60 to 65 percent by 2030. China would have to maintain a 3.6 to 4.1 percent annual reduction rate from 2005 to 2030.”

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The Business Opportunities Behind China’s COP 21 Pledges

china containers

Source: Shutterstock/ gualtiero boffi

Behind China’s new pledge to reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by 60 percent, peak its emissions and generate a fifth of its electricity from clean sources by 2030 are some huge business opportunities.

Even to this point, for this proud, once-isolationist nation to arrive at making carbon reduction pledges to the international community in advance of the U.N. climate meeting in Paris later this year involved a long engagement with Western NGOs and businesses — something only likely to grow.

What does a fifth of the power generated in a country with a $17 trillion economy and 1.36 billion people look like?

“It means over the course of the next 15 years, China will install as much clean energy capacity as the entire U.S. electricity system,” said Barbara Finamore, Asia Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council who launched the NRDC’s China operations in the 1990s and been a key facilitator ever since.

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How does China’s climate pledge stack up?

By Alliance President, Barbara Finamore. Via NRDC Switchboard Blog

As mentioned in a post on Carbon Pulse, China’s climate pledge will require the country to make very significant changes to its emissions trajectory – including adding non-fossil power equivalent to the entire U.S. power generating capacity by 2030. When you compare China’s growth trajectory against that of developed countries, how does it compare?

Li Junfeng, Director General of the National Center of Climate Change Strategy Research and Deputy Director of the Energy Research Institute at China’s National Development and Reform Commission, has provided a helpful comparison of China’s climate pledge and that of leading developed countries. He concludes that China is making significant contributions comparable to that of developed countries, based on a number of indicators we’ll discuss below.

Comparing peak years, China’s emissions would peak at a much lower GDP per capita than that of developed countries

China committed to peak its emission by 2030, when its GDP per capita will be at about $10,000 in 2005 dollars. The United States peaked when its GDP per capita was at about $40,000. The EU peaked when its GDP per capita was at about $20,000. While some other developed countries still haven’t peaked at $50,000.

Comparing the peak value per capita, China has a lower emissions per capita

Based on current projections, China’s emissions per capita when it peaks will be no more than 10 tons GHG per capita. The U.S. peaked at 19.5 tons GHG per capita, while Germany peaked at 14.1 tons GHG per capita and the UK peaked at 11.3 tons GHG per capita.

Peak GHG Emissions Per Capita

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