A dual challenge
Eine doppelte Herausforderung
Lina Li, Policy Officer at „Greenovation Hub“, China
Is there a debate about the potential role of China regarding the necessary global transformation towards low carbon and food security?
There is certainly debate about the role of China regarding the necessary transformation towards low carbon development, both domestically and internationally. Increasing concerns about energy security, rising environmental damage, and pressure to maintain the nation’s competitiveness, are all pushing in this direction. At the same time, as a country of the largest population (half still in rural area) in the world, with limited arable land and resources, China has long history, much longer than the low carbon agenda, of striving for securing sufficient food for feeding its people.
But huge gap does exist in recognizing and addressing the multiple and interlinked crisis of climate change, food, poverty and inequality in a holistic and integrated manner, and a fundamental transformation required towards a sustainable and just society, which ensures sustainable energy and right to food for all, as such it also means transformation of its development model.
So bringing together the food and climate change civil society members are a first, and a very significant step, to start such cross-cutting discussions, build the momentum and work together to make such transformation into reality.
How does Chinese civil society reflect the gap between the need for economic growth for social stability and development on the one side and the growing environmental and social challenges on the other side?
Chinese civil society has long, almost out of its birth, coming from the real on-the-ground concerns of the environmental and social challenges e.g. eco-system protection, pollution control, and poverty eradication. The traditional intervention approach was based on environmental and social solutions as well, so-called stopgap measures. Though achievements, great ones, have been achieved through this approach, it doesn’t address the fundamentals of the two folded challenges of economic growth and environmental, social challenges. It is not a gap between the two, but actually a dual challenge- again then, the economic and governance system behind need to be analyzed and taken into account as part of the solution, since it is part of the problem. More citizens and stakeholders need to be informed and mobilized, into a broader debate and corporative solution-exploration journey.
What are the most promising proposals for effectively reducing CO2 emission growth in China in the next decade?
A transformation to low carbon development, effectively reducing GHG emissions, is never easy - not for any one else and especially not for China, considering its size, economic development stage, energy and resources endowments. The change that's required is so deep and vast, that to some extent, those who have concerns over its cost (short term loss) are not surprising. As such, there is no silver bullet(s) for it; though, shift energy structure (reaching the peak of coal consumption as soon as possible), improve energy efficiency in all sectors (industry, building, transportation), and tremendously enhance the deployment of renewable energy are standing as key proposals. To achieve these, governance including electricity and energy price system, and institutional system need also reform, and more effective policy tools (e.g. carbon pricing) need to take root, in a manner that fits the national and local situations.
Do you see, and if so, where successes, best practices, political directions to move towards a post-fossil energy system in China?
The 40-45% reduction of carbon intensity, with which the energy and carbon targets in the 11th and 12th Five Year Plan aligned, is key political direction to move towards a post-fossil energy system in China. Top down policies and measures have also somehow succeeded in bringing down growing pace of energy consumption. Interesting experiments including carbon market, low carbon urbanization and distributed energy system etc, are also of great potential to leverage the change. Determination and policies seem to be in place, yet implementation and paradigm shift still need enormous efforts at all levels and time.
What international new alliances are needed which help to bring the necessary global transformation forward?
The new alliances need to be forward thinking, cross-boundary, cross-issue, and at all levels.
Interview: Stefan Rostock, Rixa Schwarz