Economic Development and Environmental Sustainability
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Secretary General Elaborated on Challenges of Green and Low-carbon Development of Chinese Cities at ICLEI World Congress 2015

On April 8-10, 2015, IEEPA Secretary General Li Junyang, at the invitation of the Municipal government of Seoul and ICLEI, elaborated on China¡¯s energy development problems and challenges facing green and low-carbon transition. The conference, themed "sustainable solutions for an urban future" has drawn the participation of over 2000 persons from 227 urban delegations of 87 countries.

In the keynote speech session for North Eastern Asian cities, Secretary General Li Junyang shared views with WHO senior officials, Deputy Mayor of Seoul, South Korea, Deputy Mayor of Kitakyushu, Japan, Deputy Mayor of Ulanhot, Mongolia and Deputy Mayor of Kyoto and answered questions from delegates present.

At present, China has entered a transition period of growing obstacles in energy reform, which is expected to last for quite a long time. It is impossible for us to reduce economic development reliance on coal in a rapid manner as China is still the largest energy consumer in the world, with energy consumption reaching 20% of the world¡¯s total. Though China¡¯s non-fossil fuel consumption doubled compared to that of 1990 in 2013, fossil fuel still took up 90% of the country¡¯s total, among which two thirds coming from coal.

For quite a long time to come, coal will remain at the core of China¡¯s economic development. To change China¡¯s coal-based industrial structure, we need not only to raise the proportion of non-fossil fuel energy, but also advance economic restructuring so that China¡¯s energy problems can be resolved fundamentally and the goal of low-carbon development and emission reduction be realized.

In fact, China is not rich in coal. According to statistics released by the Chinese Academy of Engineering, China¡¯s per-capita recoverable coal reserve proportion in the world¡¯s average stands at 67%. For reserve and production ratio, the figure for China is 35 in comparison with 118 for the world. Compared to oil and natural gas, China¡¯s coal reserve seems to be larger, yet smaller in comparison with the world¡¯s average.

As a result, China needs to build a dynamic coordinated mechanism that can integrate traditional fossil fuel with three major low-carbon energy categories: natural gas, renewable energy and nuclear energy. Only by realizing coordinated development, can energy mix adjustment be realized and energy demands be met in China¡¯s economic transition.

The Chinese government has set a goal of increasing non-fossil fuel proportion to 15% by 2020, reaching the level of the world¡¯s average. In November 2014, China and the US signed the greenhouse gas emission reduction agreement, which stipulates that China will raise its proportion of non-fossil fuel to 20% in 2030, reaching the level of developed economies in North America, Europe and Asia.

Prediction for 2006-2050 Renewable Energy Development in China

By 2020, based on conservative analysis, China will raise its nuclear energy consumption proportion to more than 3% (5% for the world¡¯s average and 8% for North America), hydropower to 7% and wind power and nuclear power to 5%.

The Chinese government has showed its unprecedentedly strong resolve and made utmost efforts in this regard. Energy structure reforms will have an impact on economic development, vice versa.

In addition to China¡¯s energy problems and challenges, Secretary General Li Junyang also mentioned the issue of urban green and low-carbon development.

According to him, it is of necessity for cities in China to take on the path of green and low-carbon development; there are challenges facing China¡¯s green and low-carbon efforts. Our urban development still relies too much on energy consumption, in particular fossil fuel energy consumption. Our urbanization demand for energy is growing rapidly and there is still high pressure on resources and environment. On the other hand, rapid urban development, imbalances in urban systems and economic structure and inadequacy in urban governance have all posed obstacles to energy reforms.

As a result, the Chinese government and cities should make the following efforts to advance our transition. We need to speed up urban development transition, build up our capacity in realizing economic and environmental sustainable development, promote clean energy development in urban areas and raise energy utilization rate in industries, transportation, construction and people¡¯s daily life. Besides, industries related to energy conservation and environmental protection should be supported and reforms and innovations ought to be accelerated in urban management system.

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