China Needs More Stimulus for Energy Efficiency Gains

ECONOMIC development plans in China need to promote a low carbon economy even further, so says a new WWF report assessing the climate and energy impacts of China’s stimulus package.

The study found that China’s stimulus package (approximately $586 billion) has been successful in boosting economic growth mainly through investments in infrastructures. This has increased demand for energy-intensive industries and cranked up China’s energy consumption in the short-term (2009-2010).

It is estimated, however, that the stimulus will have long terms benefits for  energy conservation and that its net effects on carbon emissions will be positive from 2014 onwards.

“There are signals that macroeconomic planning is starting to take carbon emissions seriously into account. We will need more of this in the future. All investment policies will have to factor in energy and resource conservation, as well as climate change,” said Dr. Li Lin, Leader of WWF’s China for a Global Shift Initiative.

It is anticipated that the originally forecast 9.63 billion tons of CO2 emissions by 2020 will decline to 9.36 billion tons. However, more efforts are needed to reach the goal that China pledged at the Copenhagen Climate Conference in December 2009 (reducing emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent by 2020 compared to 2005).

The report recommends that China increase investments in energy conservation, including stricter approval standards for energy-intensive projects and disincentives for those using inefficient technologies. China also needs to take full advantage of the country’s renewable energy potential and upgrade the energy grids.

Carbon footprint accounts for 54 percent of China’s total ecological footprint, according to a WWF report published in November 2010, so promoting a low-carbon economy will be crucial for China’s environmental sustainability.

“If properly directed, economic interventions can support the transition to low carbon development. The next Five-Year Plan (due in March) offers an enormous opportunity to set China firmly on track towards the achievement of a low carbon economy,” added Dr. Li.

Picture by Jakon Montrasio

Friday 28th January 2011

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