From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published January 18, 2012 10:04 AM

China Sets Historic Limits on GHG Emissions from Select Regions

China is starting to get on board with the international push to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Last week, China's authoritarian government ordered five cities and two provinces to institute limits on GHG emissions. These areas will now have to submit proposals to the national government's National Development and Reform Commission on how they plan to achieve it.

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The first implementation plan has been drawn up by Guandong Province, China's largest GHG emitting province and was approved. Guandong, has committed to decrease its consumption of fossil fuels to only 80 percent of overall energy consumption. The other 20 percent will have to come from either renewable sources, nuclear, or hydroelectric. In so doing, Guandong will be cutting carbon dioxide produced per unit of economic growth, known as carbon intensity, by 19.5 percent. It must accomplish this by 2015.

Other cities and provinces ordered to institute similar plans include the major cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, and Shenzhen. Along with Guangdong, the province of Hubei is also included.

To come up with these ambitious plans, the cities and provinces must set aside a fund dedicated to the project, according to the national directive.

China, with a population over three times larger than the United States, has surpassed the US to become world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Their economic and industrial rise can be largely reliant on the increasing number of coal power plants constructed. The burning of dirty fossil fuels is required to fuel the nation's massive industrial infrastructure.

This may be a reason why China has decided to use carbon intensity as its primary measurement rather than overall carbon emissions. The nation is striving for continuous growth and does not want to be hampered by hard carbon limits.

Nonetheless, China as a whole has committed to significant reductions in carbon intensity. It aims to bring carbon intensity down 40-45 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels. During the 2011-2015 period, it aims to reduce carbon intensity by 17 percent.

Tools to achieve this include the top-down national directive to select cities and provinces. China is also looking to establish market mechanisms to reach the target, supposedly a cap and trade-like system.

Other regions are independently trying to set up their own GHG reducing regimes. These include the coal-rich province of Shaanxi and the port city of Dalian. Overall, there are over 100 entities following along with similar purpose.

Correlations within the US may include California's increasingly stringent standards for air pollution set by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Also, the northeastern states have allied to create the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a group dedicated to cutting GHG emissions from the power sector by ten percent by 2018.

For more information on China's National Development and Reform Commission: http://en.ndrc.gov.cn/

Image credit: ishmatt (flickr)

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