China's "green drive" progressive, with more efforts needed
www.chinaview.cn 2009-11-03 22:19:32   Print

    BEIJING, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- To Liu Lei, it was meaningful to take the metro, instead of driving, to reach the China Energy and Environment Summit, which concluded here on Tuesday.

    "After a heavy snow Sunday, it's really cold in the morning. I spent nearly one hour on Line 5 and Line 10 to come to the venue," said the 44-year-old man, who is a chief advisor to a Taiwan software company.

    Liu, a self-branded environmentalist from Sichuan Province, said he wants to use his actions to support environmental protection and China's efforts to cope with the climate change.

    He, along with other 300 government officials, entrepreneurs and industry experts, was invited to the 2-day forum to discuss clean energy in China.

    He said Beijing's public transit system has developed quickly over the last several years and is capable of providing fast and convenient service.

    In face of heavy air pollution and road congestion, Beijing has been very aggressive in building a strong public transit system, especially the metro, while calling residents to drive less and use the metro more.

    Apart from Beijing, other big cities across the country have also spent heavily in building public transportation facilities.

    Though China's auto industry is expanding fast, yet government officials and environmentalists maintain the country's fragile environment and the impacts of the climate change cannot allow it to develop an auto market in the scale of the United States.

    

    GREEN DRIVE

    Apart from the frenzy in building less-polluting public transit system, China has also been very aggressive in developing renewable energy such as wind and solar.

    By the end of last year, China had a total installed wind power capacity of more than 12 GW, which put it one of the global top four. The sector has seen over 100-percent growth year-on-year over the past three years, according to the National Energy Administration. And officials estimated China's wind power capacity will be close to 20 GW by the end of this year.

    In solar power, China has the world's largest solar heat concentration surface for water heating. It ranks top in the nuclear power capacity under construction.

    China has also been ambitious in improving energy efficiency, calling for a 20 percent reduction in energy intensity between 2005 and 2010.

    "In developing clean energy and coping with climate change, China is one of the most active governments in the world," said Li Junfeng, deputy director of the Energy Research Institute under the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

    Chinese President Hu Jintao raised four targets in dealing with climate change at the UN climate change summit held in New York in September, which Li said demonstrated China's attitude in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    One of the four targets is to increase the proportion of non-fossil fuel in the nation's energy supply to 15 percent by 2020.

    According to Li, the U.S. government has not set a specific target on the proportion of non-fossil fuel to total energy supply, while the EU and Japan put the target at 20 percent.

    However, China's energy consumption is still growing 6 percent annually on average, while Japan and the EU are seeing consumption declining, Li told the forum.

    "China has impressive policies and has made serious efforts on energy saving, energy conservation and improving energy efficiency," said Bernice Lee, Research Director of Energy, Environment and Resource Governance under Royal Institute of International Affairs.

    And, "China is genuinely committed to tackling the impacts of climate change, as manifested by its national strategy," she said.

    Daniel Rosen, Principal of Rhodium Group and Visiting Fellow of Peterson Institute for International Economics, said China's efforts and achievements in dealing with climate change could prod U.S. Congress to increase budget on climate change measures.

    He said China is doing an excellent job in exploring wind and solar energy and it would become a big competitor to the United States in the future, though it still lags behind the United States in technological innovations and venture capital.

    

    NOT ENOUGH

    Li, of the NDRC, also said that China should continue making more efforts to cope with climate change.

    "It is never enough to do good things, but a bit of bad things could be more than enough." he said.

    Li said individual behaviors unfriendly to the environment have become a real obstacle for tackling the climate change in China. "Compared with developing clean energy, it will be more difficult to change people's consumption perception and behavior."

    Li said that in recent years, like American customers, China's newly affluent have come to prefer buying oil-guzzling vehicles, bigger apartments and higher-power air conditioners, which would "lead to terrible consequences."

    Bernice Lee said the whole world, including China, has not done enough to limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees above pre-industrial level, which scientists regard as the limit of safety beyond which warming is likely to become disastrous.

    "China's current focus is on energy saving and efficiency, as well as the scaling up of renewables and nuclear. At this point in time China will probably want to ensure that its economic recovery will go hand-in-hand with building a low carbon economy," she said.

    In the medium term, she suggested that this will involve re-balancing the proportions of primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors, as well as finding cost efficient solutions to meet infrastructural needs.

    Liu, the software company advisor, said it is necessary for Chinese people across the country to act together and make individual contributions to global efforts on climate change.

    Liu said what he has been doing in the past 10 years to protect the environment include: taking his own toothbrush when checking into hotels, commuting on buses more often, and never giving up such practices.

Editor: Yan
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