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Local pilot programs on the vanguard of low-carbon development

| 2013-03-18 | Hits:
  The Annual Review of Low-Carbon Development in China (2013) Report was released on January 10th to coincide with the 3rd Low-Carbon Development Forum, held at Tsinghua University. Experts at the forum observed that exploring less carbon-intensive development alternatives poses strategic significance for transforming China’s growth pattern. They suggested that such alternatives should be given priority for localized development projects. Su Wei, director general of the department of climate change at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and chief climate negotiator in China asserted that the international community had reached a consensus on building a green, low-carbon economy, and that countries are actively searching for ways to achieve such an economy. He added that the development of a low-carbon economy is still challenged by China’s present model of economic growth, and that international observers have higher expectations for China’s low-carbon future. Su concluded that in pursuing such an economy and an “ecological civilization”, we are not only making a commitment to our nation, but to all humankind. He Jiankun, vice chairman of the National Expert Committee on Climate Change and director of the Institute of Low Carbon Economy at Tsinghua University, said that low-carbon development is both the focal point and a predominant characteristic of ecological civilization, and its existence and success in a given nation will be a significant indication of that nation’s core competence. We are faced with increasingly serious energy and environmental problems in economic and social development which call for the transformation of the current growth pattern urgently. He advised that the revolutions in energy production and consumption will be an important pillar for and breakthrough in developing ecological civilization and a low-carbon economy. These revolutions will require technological innovation and fundamental reform of the existent macroeconomic structure for the world energy market. According to the report, since the 11th Five-Year Plan was implemented, supervision on energy-saving and policy execution has witnessed reforms. For instance, after the introduction of the “term-target responsibility system”, municipal and provincial governments have replaced the role of sectors for industrial management used in the preceding planned economy as policy-implementers for saving energy. This has been the most significant reform in Chinese supervision system on energy-saving and the most impressing system innovation in Chinese low-carbon development. “China's low-carbon development policy implementation, institutional innovation, attitude and positive action—a product of remarkable political consensus and leadership—has set an example for the world. However, due to the limitations imposed by its current stage of development, technology base and institutional mechanisms, we still have a long way to go,” Qi Ye, director of the Climate Policy Initiative at Tsinghua University, affirmed. “In the foreseeable future, the rapid pace of urbanization on such a large scale will possibly replace manufacture for export as the primary culprit of carbon-intensive growth. This deserves our special attention.” As a fundamental solution for coordinating economic growth and low-carbon development has yet to be found, the central government is pursuing alternatives to inform new policy and systems for low-carbon development through pilot programs at the local level. Experts assert that these pilot programs are pivotal for policy and system innovation. Local governments are making full use of their advantage as the leaders in these programs, planning, executing and utilizing their access to resources. The pilot regions, however, are also witnessing rapid industrialization and urbanization, and they still have a partial or even incorrect understanding of low-carbon development; as a result, the goals of low-carbon development are not articulated clearly enough, and its central focus and core attributes are underemphasized. Therefore, recognition of low-carbon development still requires both theoretical and practical strengthening. The central government is also expected to provide assistance to the pilot programs via subsidies, favourable policies, training and discussion programs, guidance, and ultimately support to expand programs appropriately. Initiated in 2010 and written by the Climate Policy Initiative at Tsinghua University, the Annual Review of Low-Carbon Development in China is the first comprehensive, professional and original research report of low-carbon development in China, aiming to be a reference source for policy-makers, as well as for policy implementation, through its summary, analysis and evaluation of policy implementation and system innovation in low-carbon development. Xie Fang is a reporter from Chinese Social Sciences Today. The Chinese version appeared in Chinese Social Sciences Today, No. 403, Jan 11. Chinese link:http://www.csstoday.net/Item/42619.aspx Translated by Jiang Hong