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A new approach at Copenhagen (3)

How should China manage its emissions reductions? In the final section of a three-part essay, Hu Angang looks to the provincial level.

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[Produced in association with Rutgers Climate and Social Policy Initiative]

The Kyoto Protocol and the future agreement that has been emerging since the Bali conference divide the over 6 billion inhabitants of the world – and more than 200 countries – into two groups: developed and developing. This has misled Chinese politicians into believing their country will always be a developing nation. In fact, China is not a developing nation in the typical sense. It is a country that is constantly making progress.

There are two factors that will force China to commit to emission reductions. First, the bulk of China’s population are already in the High, or Medium-high, Human Development Index (HDI) groups (see part one). Around 20 years ago, the majority were in the lower two groups. Figures from 2003 show that China is no longer a typical developing nation: 20% of its population is in the High HDI group and 75% in the Medium-high group. Analysing China’s 31 provincial-level divisions uncovers levels of human development that span the entire HDI spectrum. However, in the last two decades, China’s population has moved from primarily occupying the lowest two groups to the highest two.

This paper estimates that by 2010, 42% of China’s population will be in the High HDI group. By 2020, although China’s per-capita GDP will only have reached the world average, its HDI will be 0.87 or 0.88. Overall, China will be in the High HDI group. This reflects one of the characteristics of China’s growth: relatively low per-head income in comparison with developed nations, yet high living standards. China will have the ability to undertake emissions reduction commitments.
It is possible to calculate net carbon sources for each province, autonomous region and municipality in China by looking at sources of carbon emissions and at sequestration. One group in particular – comprising the provinces of Zhejiang, Liaoning, Guangdong and Jiangsu – accounts for 21.42% of China’s net carbon sources, and is also in the High HDI group of non-conditional emissions reducers. Therefore, these four provinces should cut their emissions, and to a far higher degree than is called for by the global road map. An initial plan would be to set these radical targets for the provinces:

•Aim for carbon emissions to peak by 2012;

•From 2020 to begin reducing carbon emissions to 1990 levels;

•By 2030 to reduce carbon emissions to half 1990 levels.

The three municipalities of Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin account for 5.78% of total carbon sources and are also in the High HDI group. They should also reduce emissions in line with global proposals.

A second camp, comprising the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Henan, Hubei and Hunan, account for 48.89% of total carbon sources and are therefore major emitters. However, they have medium HDI levels, and are therefore only conditional reducers. The degree of cuts would be determined by their contribution to national carbon sources, and their distance from the 0.8 HDI threshold.

A third camp, Yunnan, Qinghai and Tibet, have negative net carbon emissions. Their carbon emissions account for 2.23% of the total for other provinces, and these areas should receive environmental subsidies from those areas.

The remaining 15 areas, except Guizhou, are all in the Medium-high HDI group and as such should be conditional emissions reducers. As their HDI figures pass the 0.8 threshold they will become non-conditional reducers.

The Stern Review put global average carbon emissions per head at seven tonnes. Figures for developed nations range from 10 tonnes for Japan to 22 tonnes for the United States. Developing nations range from insignificant emissions in the poorest nations, to two tonnes in India and six tonnes in China. With the world’s population on course to reach nine billion, by 2050 the average carbon emissions per capita should be two tonnes.

The World Bank puts China’s per capita carbon emissions for 1990, 2000 and 2006 at 2.1, 2.6 and 3.9 tonnes respectively, compared to the global averages of 4.1, 4.0 and 4.3 tonnes. According to China’s road map, the country could see per-capita emissions peak by 2020. If China’s population reaches 1.4 billion in 2050, per-capita emissions would be at the 1990 level of two tonnes, or lower.

The second factor forcing China’s hand is its status as the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Figures from the UNDP show China accounted for 17.28% of global CO2 emissions in 2004. The International Energy Agency calculates this will be 27.32% in 2030, making China the largest emitter. The country is already the world’s most populous nation and its third-largest economy. But it is also the biggest source of sulphur dioxide (SO2) emissions, the largest coal consumer and the second largest energy consumer. China is one of the world’s largest polluters, and it has a responsibility to reduce those emissions.

These two factors mean that China must accept responsibilities. The current leadership has not realised this and taken these facts into full consideration. Decisions on international climate-change policy are suffering from a lack of information. If China’s leaders were clearer about the dangers of climate change and the country’s stance, they would be clearer about the obligations. If China is not clear about its responsibilities, and short-sighted enough to not make commitments at Copenhagen, India will follow suit. And if these two nations, accounting for 20% of total emissions, do not participate, EU efforts will be to no avail.

Towards an agreement

China has made three major contributions to the world since the start of the reform era: growth in the global economy, growth in global trade and huge poverty reduction. The world has already acknowledged these contributions, particularly in the area of poverty reduction. 

In 2007, president Hu Jintao said that by 2020 China would be more open to the world and make a greater contribution to civilization. In the coming decades China needs to make that contribution an environmental one; and its largest contribution to humanity in the new century. China should lead developing nations in reducing emissions; become the largest planter of carbon-sink forests; publish a road map for emission reductions; and strive to halve emissions in 1990 by 2050.

In the short term, the Chinese leadership should use the opportunity of the Copenhagen conference to adopt emissions reductions and publish a timetable for doing so. This will promote a global agreement and China will become a leader in global governance.


In the long term, China’s leaders should view emissions reductions and the transition to a low-carbon economy in terms of the best interests of humanity, leading the nation toward economic and governmental transformation and making a further contribution towards human development.


Hu Angang is one of China’s best-known economists. He is professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Tsinghua University and the director of the Centre for China Study, a leading policy think-tank. Hu has worked as the chief editor for China Studies Report, a circulated reference for senior officials.

Guan Qingyou, PhD, from the Centre for China Studies, contributed to this article.

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Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

地方的反应

按照碳排放量的不同,将全国的省份划为若干阵营,经济发达地区理应承担更多减排量,相应地,欠发达地区应获得生态补偿,只是不知道地方政府会认真执行这一要求吗?

Local Response

If you divide up the country into several areas, depending on the differences in the volumes of their carbon emissions, developed areas would have to take more responsibility for their emissions reductions while developing areas would receive ecological compensation. It is just uncertain whether or not local governments would implement this seriously.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

不明白,不清楚。

我们应该看到无论是国内的节能减排,还是参与全球的碳减排,不仅仅是为了给自己设定一个承诺和责任来让自己去履行和承担。节能减排应该成为推动我国经济和全球经济的可持续发展的强烈动力。宏观上进行长远和本质的把握和驾驭,微观上势必要这种理念贯穿于实践过程之中。
不过,到目前未知,这也许只是一些环保主义者或者热心于环境问题的专家学者的一种设想而已。面对全球的经济危机,生态危机又能够被摆在什么位置了。
不明白,不清楚。

Confused and puzzled

We should realise that whether it is domestic energy conservation and emissions reductions, or participating in global carbon emissions, it shouldn’t just be in order to set promises and responsibilities for ourselves to undertake and implement. Energy conservation and emissions reductions should become a powerful motivational force to drive the sustainable development of our domestic economy and also the global economy. On the macro-level we need to grasp a long-term and essential view of this, while on the micro putting it into a practical process. However, up until now it is perhaps only something envisaged by environmentalists and those experts who are passionate about environmental issues. Up against the global economic crisis, what kind of position will the ecological crisis assume? I'm confused, and puzzled. (Translated by Tian Liang)

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

国内的区别责任

区别对待国内不同省份是个很好的想法,如果此举能成为现实,将会给国内的环境治理提供一个很好的案例。

To Differentiate Liability at Home

It's a good idea to make a difference between each domestic province ,which would set an excellent example in the treatment of civil environment if becoming a reality.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

很自负

“现在的领导人没有意识到这一点,是因为他们没有这些信息来充分考量。”这样的言论就太不与时俱进了。领导人出访,无论是双边,还是多边,气候变化问题基本是必谈的。难道领导人不需要做基本的功课。政治局听过气候变化的讲座,温家宝总理是“应对气候变化领导小组”组长,难道都不了解基本的知识?

Overconfident

"Today's leaders haven't realised this because they do not have the information to give it adequate consideration" Saying things like this is behind the times. When leaders go to talks, whether they are bilateral or multilateral, they have to talk about climate change. Don't the leaders have to do their homework on the basics? The Politburo have listened to a lecture on climate change, Premier Wen Jiabao is Chair of " the Leading Group for Tackling Climate Change" and he doesn't even understand the basics?
(Translated by Jodie Gardiner)

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

行业的办法

相比较这个按照省份分配的方法,行业倒是个更加务实的选择。我们高排放的产业,比如电力工业,就需要采取措施,减少排放,实际上减少二氧化碳排放和减少二氧化硫的排放很类似。我们国家通过强制的办法,让电厂脱硫,同时可以提高部分上网的电价(每度2分5厘)来激励电厂-主要就是五大发电集团,他们也主要是国有企业。但是温室气体的范围更加广泛一些,通过减少土地的使用的改变来减少农业的排放,在短期内不大现实。
根本性的办法在于从源头上减排,这个有两个办法: 1)减少火电厂的建设 ;2)减少需求侧的欲望。现在考虑来考虑去,无非就是说对电厂采取什么措施,堵住这个排放,包括一些国家提倡的所谓二氧化碳捕捉和储存技术,以及直接从大气中抽取二氧化碳的技术。但是成本到底会如何,现在还是个未知数。
现在,应对气候变化好像是进行军备竞赛,就是比谁家的底子厚。鞍钢同志的方法就是这样的:谁有钱,谁就要承担更多义务。这个说实话,没有太大的道理。虽然说,也许领导人可能日理万机,信息有限,倒是这位同志的考虑还是处于气候变化的初级阶段,有些信口开河。分配

Industrial approaches

It seems that allocation in accordance with different industries is a more pragmatic option, as compared with provinces. Those industries with high emissions, such as power industry, should take steps to reduce emissions. In fact, reducing CO2 emissions is very similar to reducing SO2. The government can enforce power stations to desulfurate, as well as offering incentives by raising a portion of the power purchase price (RMB 2.5 cents per KWh) to those stations - mainly for the top five electricity generation power group, which also are state-run enterprises. However, the range of greenhouse gases is wider, and to reduce agricultural emission by cutting down the use of land is not very realistic in the short-term view. There are two fundamental approaches that lie in emissions from sources: 1) to reduce construction of power plants; 2) to reduce the desire of demand. At present, power stations are asked to adopt measures in order to plug the emission, including the so-called CO2 capture and storage techniques advocated by some countries, and the technique of extracting CO2 directly from atmosphere. But the cost still remains unknown. Nowadays to overcome climate change is like arms race, competing with each other's wealth. According to the people from An Gang Steel Company Ltd., those who are rich should take more responsibilities. It is true and straightforward. Although leaders might be too busy with other affairs to have enough information, the writer is only considering climate change at stage, and is free with his tongue.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

胡氏理论的缺陷

我真的很纳闷,为什么胡氏没有看到电力工业的垄断行为对我们经济以及节能事业的阻碍作用呢?连他都没有看出来,我真的觉得这个问题很严重。节能你就逃不掉节电,大家都节电,经济上去了,用电不增长,电力工业怎么办?我们电网和电力规划的出发点就是中国预计到什么时候什么时候需要多少装机容量,需要耗多少电,如果万一我们实现了经济增长和能耗脱了钩,就像加州的情况那可怎么办?
毕竟我们还是把电力工业当成赚钱而不是提供普遍服务的一种行业来经营的,这是个大问题,大麻烦。现在的矛盾还不明显,有时候我们的电还不够用,所以这些电老虎还是装麽做样地鼓励你节电,人家没办法供应那么多嘛。现在用电少了,很多地方就鼓励你用电,最好浪费点,否则,人家怎么活?电力工业养活了很多人呢,连个电工一年也能搞个几十万什么的,你们不会很惊奇吧。
实行电力改革是我们进行节能减排最重要的工作,没有电力工业的支持,我们怎么实现风能,太阳能大规模上网,并网发电?什么时候才能家家屋顶装上太阳能电板?工厂的余热怎么发电?发了要低价卖给供电部门,然后再高价卖给你?我们国家能把余热利用好,我看就可以解决节能的大部分短期任务。这个才是关键,而不是动扯扯西扯扯什么大道理。
电力部门是隐藏在我们身后的看不见的bad guy。国家电网公司绝对是世界上的超级怪物,据说是世界上最大的公用事业公司,我看这真是莫大的讽刺:用电人的生意都不好,就是电力公司他们的好。电本身没有什么意义,主要的是用电可以产生的社会和经济意义。单纯卖一度电,赚几毛钱有什么用?但是用一度电可以生产的产品和服务那才为社会真正创造价值和就业。
电力的改革是困难的和漫长的,事先的做法就是规定任何符合政策的可再生能源价格都可以上网,并且强制电力部门收购,加强电力监管委员会(目前最没有用的监管委员会)的地位,把电力部门的利润和销售额(就是卖多少电)脱钩,反正到后来公用事业还是政府掏钱提供的普遍服务!国内把他们整治好了,我看离实现我们的节能目标也就不远了。不相信我们等着瞧。

The Flaw in Hu Angang’s Theory

I’m puzzled. Why doesn’t Hu Angang see how the electricity industry monopoly obstructs both our economic growth and our efforts at energy conservation? Even he doesn’t see it. I truly believe this problem is very serious. You cannot separate electricity conservation and energy conservation. If everyone conserves electricity, the economy will improve without elevated electricity usage. Then what will the power companies do? Our electricity grid and electricity planning programs are all based upon China’s predicted electricity capacity and consumption. If we truly do manage to disconnect economic growth and energy consumption, as in California, then what to do?
Ultimately, we will still considering power utilities as money-making enterprises rather than the provider of a basic public service. This is a huge problem, and a huge pain. The current error is not obvious, Sometimes we still see electricity shortages, and thus these “energy tigers” will encourage you to conserve electricity. Now that we use less electricity, in many places people are encouraged to increase electricity usage, or even better, to waste a little bit, otherwise how will people live themselves? The fact that electricity companies provide for many people several hundred thousand a year, even if a electrician, wouldn’t surprise you.
When it comes to conserving energy and reducing emissions, electricity reform is our most important work. Without the electricity industry’s support, how will we develop a large-scale, grid-connected wind and solar power network? When will solar panels cover the roofs of every home? Factories should produce energy from excess heat, and then sell this energy at a low price to the public power sector. Power companies can then sell this energy to you at an elevated price. Once we have put excess heat to use, we can meet many short-term energy conservation requirements. This is the key.
The power sector is the bad guy we cannot see. The national power sector is absolutely the world’s largest monster. It’s said to be the world’s largest public industry. Herein is a great irony. What is bad for electricity users is nothing to do with the good business of electricity providers. Electricity itself is of no significance. Only electricity put to use, has economic and social meaning. You can sell a pure watt of electricity and make a few cents, or you can use that same watt to make products or provide services. Only then is electricity of social value.
The electricity system reform is a long and difficult process. One pre-emptive strategy is to pass policies that enable renewable resources to be brought onto the grid; another is to strengthen the electricity supervision committee (which at present is the most useless supervision committee), and decouple the electricity sector’s profits and their sales income (which is simply how much electricity has been sold). At any rate, eventually the electricity sector should be a public enterprise for which the government uses money to provide a basic service! If we can only achieve these reforms, I believe we will not be far from realizing our energy conservation goals. If you don’t believe it, just wait and see.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

谁翻译的2分5厘?

2分5厘翻译成了2 metre 5 centimeter,这不是胡闹嘛,我觉得这怎么像个翻译之家,都是些学徒?咱们今后还怎么参与这个评论?

Who translated "2分5厘"?

"2分5厘" was mistranslated as 2 metres 5 centimetres. This isn't deliberately making trouble, I thought how can this be a professional translator, are they all apprentices? How can we continue to participate in this discussion after this?

Translated by Nathalie Thorne

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

需要制定兼顾行业与地方两者的目标

我也很欣赏胡根据省的不同情况而论的这一分析和想法。根据行业/地方来制定减少量具有重大意义。尽管有些省和地方的人类发展指数高,像浙江和广州,它们都是服务型和轻工业为主导(想想电子产业,包括太阳板(!),和塑料、纸等)。而像江苏和辽宁的人类发展指数稍微低点,虽然它们也有轻工业,但显然像钢铁(中国目前排放量的主要源头,远超其他任何一个行业)这样的重工业要占更大的比例。河北是中国的钢铁大省,也许就产量而言它是其他省的两倍之多,但它的人类发展指数偏低……所以,这要求我们兼顾地方和行业两者。——sustainablejohn
(translated by diaoshuhuan)

need combo of sectoral and provincial targets

I also really like Hu’s analysis and ideas of splitting up the provinces.

A combination of sectoral/provincial cuts would be quite significant. Although the provinces with highest HDI, Zhejiang and Guangzhou, are more service and light manufacturing oriented (think electronics, including solar panels(!), and plastics, paper, etc.) whereas Jiangsu and Liaoning I think must have slightly lower HDIs and have a lot of light manufacturing but also decent shares of heavy manufacturing like steel (China’s biggest source of emissions of any one single industry). Hebei is the steel powerhouse of China, I think twice more than any other province in terms of production, but it has a lower HDI… so this is where we would need a balance between provincial and sectoral.

-sustainablejohn

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

回复评论7

志愿者的失误,导致这个翻译出现问题,对此我们表示歉意。现错误之处已经改正,谢谢您给我们提出建议,我们正在努力改善网站的评论翻译管理。

中外对话 霍伟亚

Response to comment 7

We apologise for the volunteers slip-up that lead to the apparent translation problem. The mistake has already been rectified. We are currently working hard on improving the running of our comment translations. Thank-you for all your suggestions.

Huo Wei Ya,
China Dialogue

This comment was translated by Kate Truax.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

you can not do 2 things successfully at the same time

It is quite difficult to tackle 2 things that is so challenging at the same time, and you must pick one at one time, given the limited resources available. If we must combine the sector and reginoal approach, then someone suggest we have to divide between export industries and domestic industries; then someone may recommend may say we have to make a mark in the sand between cold climate zone and warm climate zone, because it is so different for the heating energy use in these 2 zones;and in such a large country, it is quite difficult to include every voice.So let's find out the most typical and practical measure in the first place.

鱼和熊掌无法兼得

同时应付两件这么有难度的事情相当不容易,你只能利用手头上有限的资源一次处理其中一件。如果必须要兼顾行业和地区这两方面的话,那么可能就会有人提出按出口产业和本国产业来划分;可能还有人会建议在沙地标界划分寒冷气候区和温暖气候区,因为它们在供暖能源使用上极其不同;中国这么大,几乎不可能同时听取来自各方的所有意见。因此,我们的首要任务是要找到一条最典型并且切实可行的路。
(translated by diaoshuhuan)