Business / News

Emissions cap shows China's 'sincerity'

By Lan Lan in Doha, Qatar (China Daily) Updated: 2012-11-29 07:27

Experts say plans to reduce carbon intensity key to long-term growth

Some cities in East China have started planning how to cap their greenhouse gas emissions, and their experiences will act as an example for other cities, a climate change expert has said.

China has set a national target to cut carbon intensity emissions per unit of GDP by 40 to 45 percent between 2005 and 2020. Determining how to achieve this target is to be decided by local governments.

Aside from planning to cut carbon intensity, cities such as Beijing and Zhenjiang of Jiangsu province are also making plans to cap their total carbon emissions, said He Jiankun, deputy director of the National Climate Change Expert Committee.

Greenhouse gas emissions in some eastern coastal areas are expected to peak at around 2020, He told China Daily on the sidelines of the climate change talks in Doha, Qatar.

"But the peak might not be a sharp corner, it may last for some period," said He, who is also director of the Institute of Low Carbon Economy at Tsinghua University.

"The considerations in capping greenhouse gas emissions underscore China's sincerity toward structural transformation and a low-carbon economy," he said.

However, at this stage, China cannot shoulder absolute emission cuts as it is constrained by its development stage, which is in the middle of urbanization and industrialization, he added.

He said the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities" must be insisted in forming the future climate change regime, ensuring opportunities and rights for all countries' sustainable development.

Some developed countries made commitments for absolute emissions, but if that is converted into carbon intensity reduction, between 1990 to 2010, China's carbon intensity declined by 50 percent, while that of the developed economies' declined by 30 percent, according to He.

At the same time, he said it's unsustainable for China's resource-abundant western regions to replicate the development path of eastern coastal areas, which were heavily reliant on the heavy chemical industry at a high cost to the environment.

"How the western regions can explore a low-carbon path is an urgent challenge facing China," said He.

A few western provinces maintained a double-digit economic growth rate, despite the national economic slowdown. Some regions have seen an influx of investment in recent years. Industries such as mines, electricity generation and coal chemical have risked the vulnerable environment in western areas. "Reasonable growth rates are important for China, but it has entered into a stage where efficiency and quality of economic development matters more," said He.

"Without shifting to a low-carbon path, it's difficult for China to build its international competitiveness in the long run," he said.

Hot Topics

Editor's Picks