NRDC hosts COP15 side event on climate solutions in China

I work in China. I am no stranger to crowds. But the number of people streaming into Copenhagen for what is already an historic event in the global undertaking to curtail climate catastrophe would put even the most cosmopolitan of cities to shame – and it’s only the first week.

On Tuesday evening, NRDC hosted an official side event in the Bella Center, where the Copenhagen climate negotiations are taking place, on “China and the World: Solving climate change through practical, on-the-ground collaboration.”  Side events (see the full list here) are a way for NGOs, countries, international bodies and other groups to highlight issues related to climate change and are hotly sought-after forums; only a small number of applications were approved.  NRDC’s side event was focused on explaining China’s efforts to mitigate its emissions, including the progress that has been made as well as the challenges ahead and the most important solutions.  

COP15 participants and observers are clearly interested in learning more about these issues, because the room was packed, even though most of the audience had probably had a full day of conference activities while still recovering from their jet lag. 

NRDC was lucky to have some of the top US and Chinese experts, including our own, to address some of the key solutions to reducing China’s emissions.  The speakers were:

  • Dr. Mark Levine, Senior Scientist, Group Leader and Founder of the China Energy Group at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, presented on China’s proposal to reduce its carbon intensity by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, calling the goal very significant. 
  • Dr. Lü Xuedu, Deputy Director-General of China’s National Climate Center, noted that China had established institutions and policies to address climate change and was already taking significant actions to mitigate its emissions, and revealed that the 40 to 45% target was the top of the range recommended by Chinese academic institutes. Dr. Lu is one of China’s climate negotiators and is a member of the Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board; for a number of years, he was the Chairman of that Board.
  • Robert Earley, Low Carbon Transportation Program Manager of the Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation (iCET), discussed his NGO’s work on analyzing low carbon fuel standards and fuel economy standards for China, as well as establishing China’s first energy and carbon registry. 
  • Dr. Kevin Mo, our Senior Sustainable Buildings Specialist, discussed the findings from an NRDC-Boston Consulting Group report “From Gray to Green” discussing the challenges and huge potential for green efficient buildings in China. (See his blog post on his presentation here.)
  • Jingjing Qian, Deputy Director of the China Program, explained the need for research and development of carbon capture and storage technologies and policies in China, which could also benefit the U.S.  (See the executive summary of NRDC's soon-to-be released on CCS opportunities in China here.)
  • Finally, Alex Wang, Director of NRDC’s China Environmental Law Project, described how China is establishing the institutions like official evaluation systems for provincial officials and enterprises to reduce its energy intensity and emissions. (See his blog post on his presentation here and related blog post here.)

This side event is one of the few places during this conference where a thorough discussion of how China would meet global warming pollution/carbon intensity targets took place. 

Some nice photos and coverage of our side event are also available here.