Experts: There are five steps to develop a low-carbon economy in China

Interview with Vice President of the China Research Institute for Sustainable Development Zhang Kunmin China's development of a low-carbon economy requires five steps Domestic resources must be limited and the mode of growth must be changed External pressure should not be high Carbon path should be taken before this World Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen At the opening ceremony of the UN Climate Change Summit, China made it clear that it will “continue to make unremitting efforts to tackle climate change” and stressed that it will take four powerful measures to tackle climate change. One of them is “proactive development. Low-carbon economy". Then, what is the connotation and development trend of a low-carbon economy? What are its development paths and major tasks? The reporter interviewed Zhang Kunmin, vice chairman of the China Sustainable Development Research Association.

There are internal requirements for the development of a low-carbon economy Q: In addition to dealing with external pressures such as climate change, what are the internal requirements for the development of a low-carbon economy in China?
Zhang Kunmin: China is a large developing country. Economic development has relied too much on the depletion of fossil energy resources. As a result, carbon emissions have continuously increased and environmental pollution has become increasingly serious. This has seriously affected the quality and efficiency of economic growth and the sustainability of development. In addition to dealing with external pressures such as climate change, China's development of a low-carbon economy also has the following internal requirements.
First, China’s per capita energy resources are not high, and the amount proved is only 51% of the world average. This congenital deficiency, coupled with the extensive use of acquired ones, objectively requires us to develop a low-carbon economy.
The second is the outstanding total carbon emissions. According to the UN general formula, the total carbon emissions are actually the product of four factors: population, per capita GDP, energy consumption per unit of GDP (energy intensity), and carbon emissions (carbon intensity) per unit of energy consumption. China has a large population and huge energy consumption. The total amount of carbon emissions will inevitably increase year by year. It also includes a large amount of “connotation energy” for export products. We rely on high-carbon routes to produce cheap products for export, but we have backed the “black pan” with a large total carbon emission. After some developed countries regard climate change as a political issue, China’s development of a low-carbon economy is particularly significant.
The third is the effect of the "lock-in effect." Since the industrial era, economic and social development in various countries has formed a heavy reliance on fossil energy technologies. During the post-industrialization period in the developed countries, some high-carbon industries and technologies such as heavy chemical industry have continuously transferred to developing countries through international investment and trade channels. If China continues to use traditional technologies and develop high-carbon industries, it may be locked in by these high-carbon industrial facilities when it needs to commit to quantitative greenhouse gas emission reductions or restrictions. Therefore, in the process of modernization, China needs to plan early, grasp the carbon budget, avoid the lock-in of high-carbon industries and consumption, and strive to make the entire society's production and consumption system free from excessive dependence on fossil fuels.
Fourth, there is little room for carbon emissions. The per capita carbon dioxide emissions of more than 1,000 tons in the history of developed countries have greatly squeezed the developing countries' current emissions. We have every reason to demand that developed countries fulfill their obligations under the Convention and take the lead in reducing emissions in accordance with the principle of "common but differentiated responsibilities." In 2006, China’s average electricity consumption per capita was 2,060 kWh, which was lower than the world average and was only about 1/4 of the OECD countries and less than 1/6 of the United States. However, disposable energy consumption accounts for more than 16% of the world's total, and total carbon dioxide emissions exceed the world's 20%, which is equivalent to the world's per capita emissions. This shows that in the process of industrialization and urbanization, China's carbon emission intensity is high, and energy consumption will continue to increase, and carbon emissions will not be very large. We should actively develop a low-carbon economy.

Regarding “low carbonization” as a development goal, we must not only save energy and reduce emissions but also complete the modernization process. How should China deploy and develop a low-carbon economy?
Zhang Kunmin: As a large developing country, the starting point and task for China's development of a low-carbon economy is quite different from that of developed countries. China must embark on a new path of developing a low-carbon economy in the process of accelerating industrialization, urbanization, and modernization.
In terms of strategic orientation, China’s low-carbon development should adopt a gradual approach that is based on both national conditions and world development trends, and establish clear phase objectives and feasible priority action plans. Specifically, I think there are five steps:
The first is to take “low carbonization” as one of the strategic goals of national economic and social development, and integrate relevant indicators into various plans and policies. In light of the actual situation, we must explore the low-carbon development model in different regions and strive to control carbon emissions. growth rate.
Second, under the premise of sustainable development, low-carbon development is regarded as the key content of building an innovative country, and it is incorporated into the specific practice of new industrialization and urbanization.
The third is to use the opportunity of the international financial crisis to make full use of advanced technologies such as carbon emission reduction, energy security and environmental protection, and continuously improve the competitiveness of low-carbon technologies and products in China.
Fourth, actively participate in international exchanges and cooperation on low-carbon energy and low-carbon energy technologies, introduce advanced foreign concepts, technologies, and funds, and promote the transformation of production and consumption patterns through new international cooperation models and institutional innovations.
The fifth is to actively participate in the international negotiations on climate change and the formulation of low-carbon rules, so as to strive for a reasonable space for development in our country. By committing voluntary emission reduction actions in line with national conditions and practical capabilities, the international image of responsible big powers will be promoted. At the same time, it insisted that developed countries take the lead in reducing emissions substantially, and established a “measurable, reportable, verifiable” technology transfer and funding support mechanism.

Main measures for developing a low-carbon economy Q: In terms of local government, what are the specific measures for achieving a “low-carbon city”?
Zhang Kunmin: At present, there is plenty of enthusiasm for low-carbon development in the whole society. Many cities have expressed their strong desire to strive for low-carbon pilot cities. Low-carbon development is not only necessary but also possible for China. The most important measure is 5 items:
First, the government takes the lead, understands the family, bases on the facts, establishes goals, formulates plans, develops in an orderly manner, and avoids rushing to the top.
The second is to encourage “combination of production, education and research”, accelerate the development of low-carbon products and low-carbon technologies, enhance independent innovation capabilities, and seize the commanding heights.
The third is to speed up the research and development of relevant laws and regulations, including national monitoring assessment management standards, financial and taxation, price and other financial policy measures (such as the introduction of carbon tax, pilot carbon trading, etc.).
The fourth is to immediately start piloting low-carbon development in industries (industrial, construction, transportation), enterprises, cities, and communities.
The fifth is to strengthen publicity and guidance so that leaders and the general public at all levels understand what a low-carbon economy is, why low-carbon economy should be developed, and how low-carbon economy should be developed so as to promote a major change in the production, lifestyle and consumption concepts of the entire society.