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More efforts needed for sustainable goals

Updated: 2021-03-11China Daily


Employees assemble photovoltaic panels at a production facility in Liupanshui, Guizhou province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Government authorities should ramp up efforts to encourage companies to shift toward green development in order to achieve carbon neutrality, experts said.

The call came amid China's reaffirmed strong commitment to protecting the environment and preserving a vibrant ecology.

Song Xin, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and chairman of China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group, called for more government support to set up a zero-carbon demonstration zone, encourage technology research, development and innovation, establish carbon-negative industry clusters to promote low-carbon industrial transformation, and optimize the carbon emissions trading mechanism to stimulate the vitality of the trading market.

Carbon emissions trading allows entities that have higher carbon emissions to purchase the right to release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from entities that have lower carbon emissions.

Song's remarks were in line with China's strong green commitment. Last year, China vowed to reach the goal of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Carbon neutrality refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by striking a balance between emitting and absorbing carbon.

China's commitment to green development was also reiterated by Premier Li Keqiang on Friday during the two sessions. While delivering the Government Work Report, Li said China plans to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 13.5 percent and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 18 percent in the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).

Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University, said the country's carbon emissions come primarily from fossil fuel power generation and the industrial sector, a small percentage from the transportation sector and an even smaller portion from agricultural, commercial and residential sectors.

"More efforts are needed for China to control the consumption of fossil fuels and offset emissions from high-energy intensive and heavy industries. Power generation should also shift its heavy reliance from thermal power to clean and renewable sources of energy. It is also important to build a clean energy structure, promote the development of renewable and clean energy and advance carbon capture, utilization and storage," Lin said.

Lin added that it is an arduous task to achieve carbon neutrality within the stipulated time frame and sustained efforts are needed to first ensure the country's target in the 14th Five-Year Plan.

Song said: "Currently, the well-known successful cases of carbon peaking are mainly seen overseas and in developed areas in China. Both authorities and companies in many less-developed areas in China still lack an understanding regarding peaking emissions and carbon neutrality."

In this regard, Song suggested creating a zero-carbon demonstration zone where companies that lacked sufficient understanding and technology in green development can gain experience.

Song added that both authorities and companies should learn from advanced and relevant experiences from both at home and abroad, create a zero carbon demonstration model that companies can refer to, combine the government's systematic exploration with companies' independent innovation and encourage more qualified places and companies to take action.

"In addition, companies should speed up tackling core technology barriers and exploring technology solutions to peaking carbon emissions. Authorities should also roll out supportive policies for companies to tackle core technologies like carbon capture and storage," Song said. Carbon capture and storage is the process of capturing waste carbon dioxide, transporting it to a storage site and safely depositing it.

Song also suggested authorities establish carbon-negative industry clusters to promote low-carbon transformation for relevant industries.

"First, authorities can select industrial parks where there are energy-intensive companies and then offer financial support as well as low-carbon production model demonstrations and innovations to systematically manage and regulate energy consumption within the parks. It is also important to optimize the carbon emissions trading mechanism to stimulate the vitality of the market. At present, the carbon emissions trading market lacks unified approval and entry standards, which has led to relatively low trading efficiency and vitality," Song said.

"More efforts are needed to set up a unified standard for entry into the carbon emissions trading market, develop a relatively mature trading mechanism, enhance supervision and regulation enforcement over carbon emissions trading and improve technologies needed for the supervision of carbon emissions, in order to ensure that China's carbon emissions trading market is developing in an orderly manner."

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