Chinanews client, Beijing, October 29 (Lang Lang and Ren Jing) "China's response to climate change has undergone historic changes, which basically reversed the rapid growth of carbon dioxide emissions."

  On October 27, the Information Office of the State Council released the white paper "China's Policies and Actions to Address Climate Change".

This is the second time China has released a white paper on China's response to climate change at the national level since 2011.

  What does the release of the white paper mean?

Will the current power shortage in some regions affect our efforts to combat climate change?

With these questions, the “New China Observation” column of interviewed Pan Jiahua, deputy director of the National Climate Change Expert Committee, former director of the Institute of Ecological Civilization of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and member of the Faculty, and Wang Can, a professor at the School of Environment of Tsinghua University. Authoritative interpretation of the topic.

Drawing: Zhang Jianyuan

To tackle climate change, China must do what it says

China News Service: According to the white paper, China’s carbon emission intensity in 2020 will be 48.4% lower than that in 2005, which has exceeded China’s commitment to the international community to reduce 40%-45% by 2020, basically reversing the rapid growth of carbon dioxide emissions. situation.

What are the reasons why we can achieve these results?

Pan Jiahua

: There are many reasons for achieving these results, but the fundamental reason is that the concept of ecological civilization has taken root and sprouted.

  Without a fundamental change in perception, it is difficult for people to take action.

  The second point is the revolutionary breakthrough of zero-carbon renewable energy technology.

  From the perspective of electricity production, what we need is energy services, and we can use "zero-carbon" energy services to get rid of carbon.

Before 2015, the cost and efficiency of wind and solar power generation could not be compared with conventional fossil energy. After 2010, the cost of wind and solar power generation dropped by more than 80% in just 10 years, which is technologically revolutionary. The breakthrough gives us confidence and confidence.

From the perspective of power demand, the emergence of pure electric vehicles allows us to see the possibility of getting rid of fuel vehicles.

  With the rapid advancement of technology, we have seen the dawn of a "zero-carbon society" from both production and consumption.

The reason why technology can advance by leaps and bounds is inseparable from the change in the concept of ecological civilization, and the two complement each other.

  Third, people's yearning and need for a better life in the ecological environment.

In the past, people cared more about income growth and consumption levels, and did not pay enough attention to environmental quality or even ignored them.

People now demand fresh air and clean water, and coal must be reduced from the source.

  Fourth, in recent years, the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events have greatly increased, such as the high temperature and heat wave in the south, extreme rainstorms in Zhengzhou and Shanxi. Emission reduction and control of temperature rise are related to sustainable development.

  Finally, this is also a manifestation of taking on international responsibilities.

As a developed country, the United States refuses to ratify the "Kyoto Protocol" and withdraw from the "Paris Agreement"; while China, as a developing country, joins hands with the world to cope with climate change and launches meaningful cooperation with the world.

China News Network reporter: The white paper mentioned that China’s new national independent contribution target measures: China’s carbon dioxide emissions are striving to reach a peak before 2030, and strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060; by 2030, China’s carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP will be higher than that of 2005. A year-on-year decrease of more than 65%.

What are the considerations for setting the 65% target?

What challenges do we face?

Wang Can

: This goal is set by considering the expectations of future economic growth and the requirements for carbon peaks.

Achieving this goal requires a lot of effort, because with the slowdown of economic development, the growth rate of carbon emissions needs to be controlled more quickly.

  Judging from the path given by the "dual carbon" goal, in ten years, we must decouple GDP growth from carbon emissions as soon as possible.

How to enable such a large economy to achieve the upgrading and transformation of the industrial structure, and at the same time quickly enter the low-carbon and decarbonization track, so that the energy system can achieve decarbonization before the economic system is very challenging.

Pan Jiahua

: This intensity target is a transitional attribute, measuring the improvement of energy efficiency and carbon productivity.

We are now moving towards carbon neutrality. Although efficiency is also important, the core point lies in absolute control and reduction.

The nationally determined contributions of developed countries hardly involve intensity indicators, but absolute control and reduction.

As a developing country, the indicators of these relative attributes are still meaningful, but with the final carbon neutrality, the relative amount becomes less important.

Data map: power grid.

Photo by Chen Xiang

Power shortages, "dual carbon" goals should not be "back-to-back" Will power shortages in some regions affect our efforts to tackle climate change?

Will it affect our carbon emission target?

Wang Can

: If you look at it in two, it is possible in the short term.

Because it is necessary to quickly resolve the short-term contradiction between power supply and demand, a more feasible way is to increase the power supply based on fossil energy, which will bring about an increase in carbon emissions in the short term.

But in the long run, as long as the energy development path of meeting future growth in electricity demand through the development of renewable energy remains unchanged, it will not affect the "dual carbon" goal.

Pan Jiahua

: Recently, there has been a power shortage, power cuts, and companies shutting down. The situation is very serious.

However, carbon peaking and carbon neutrality should not be "back-to-back".

Attributing the power shortage to the goal of "dual control" is a superficial and superficial understanding.

  First of all, our electricity and energy consumption is generally stable and there is no significant increase.

Secondly, the government and the market have channels and means, and it is impossible without warning that there is a sudden shortage of coal and electricity.

For a period of time, the whole society must talk about "dual carbon", and it is only natural to attribute it to "dual carbon".

However, this is not a simple carbon issue. Even if there is a problem, some people chant the "dual carbon" slogan, blindly and lazily, and use "dual carbon" as an excuse for "one size fits all".

  It is too normal for any normal operating economy to experience economic fluctuations due to natural, market, and social changes.

Just like when a car is driving on a curve, it cannot be suddenly braked when turning, it needs a buffer period, and it cannot be “one size fits all”.

  On an objective level, internationally, due to the epidemic, the normal production and operation of many economies have been impacted, production has stagnated, and the basic needs of society cannot be guaranteed.

In the case of the new crown epidemic in China, we have strictly prevented and controlled it. When the epidemic ebbs, companies have quickly started production to reduce losses. Therefore, our country's production capacity can be used to meet the needs of the domestic and international markets.

Compared with production cuts due to the epidemic, the resumption of production will naturally require an increase in energy consumption.

  The reason why we say that the power shortage has nothing to do with "dual carbon" is because carbon neutrality will be achieved before 2060, and we still have about 40 years to go.

During this period, our thermal power stations can gradually be shut down normally, not immediately in 2021.

The peaks we are talking about are not achieved immediately, let alone climbing peaks, but after a high plateau period, there will be multiple peaks, not a single peak.

Therefore, it should not be "one size fits all"!

  Energy, as a necessary source of power for the normal operation and development of the economy and society, will definitely fluctuate with changes in economic society and natural conditions, and this high plateau period is a relatively long period, as long as the long-term trend of carbon emissions is It's fine if the volatility drops.

Data map: Dalat photovoltaic base in Inner Mongolia in operation.

Photo by Liu Wenhua

Chinanews: The power shortage in some regions also reminds us that China needs to reduce its dependence on fossil energy?

Has the power shortage in Northeast and other places accelerated the "decarbonization" process to some extent?

Wang Can

: There is indeed a dependency, which can be directly felt by the industry, energy sector and the public.

But the power crisis also brings us some enlightenment.

  On the one hand, it is necessary to minimize the proportion of high energy-consuming industries in the energy consumption of the production terminal, and to save energy as much as possible in the energy consumption of the people.

In addition, in the temporal and spatial distribution of energy use, there is still a relatively large space for optimization and adjustment, peak shaving and valley filling, establishment of a more complete energy use adjustment mechanism, and use of emerging technologies such as big data and virtual power stations to achieve more scientific and reasonable energy. Conversion and energy consumption. After the severe epidemic last year, many local governments have launched a large number of coal power projects against the trend in order to stimulate investment and stimulate the economy.

How will this affect us to achieve our ultimate goal?

Will it affect carbon peak carbon neutrality?

Pan Jiahua

: It will not have much impact.

  However, local governments are short-sighted and irrational. To make these investments, they must be mentally prepared: high-carbon lock-in will increase asset idleness and asset waste.

After a few years of investment, coal power cannot be sold in the end. How can the cost be recovered?

This is an issue that investors and local governments need to worry about.

  On the one hand, the international community is accelerating towards carbon neutrality. On the other hand, cheap zero-carbon energy occupies the market, and high-carbon coal investment projects may end up being "helpless", but these investments will not be carbon neutral. Cause a fundamental impact.

Wang Can

: These are actually incomplete, inaccurate and incomplete implementations of the new development concept by some local governments.

  According to past experience, when facing short-term economic development difficulties, some places are accustomed to relying on traditional development models and adding high-level and high-level projects.

On the surface, some problems can be solved. Because of the new projects, the GDP index will go up; when the project construction activities increase, the current employment will go up.

However, the production capacity itself may be surplus, and behind the production capacity are a series of problems such as environmental pollution and climate change pressure.

  This also shows that some of the problems we face are often the product of multiple contradictions, such as the epidemic, short-term economic development difficulties, imbalances in energy supply and demand, local environmental pollution, mid- to long-term climate change, and so on.

Only by considering these contradictions together can we find a more optimized and reasonable solution.

Data map: Photograph by Wang Jing, a super large coal yard in Shanxi Yangcheng Power Plant

White paper, put pressure on developed countries that just chanted slogans


According to the latest situation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of the countries released by the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change recently, although many countries have promised new targets for controlling greenhouse gas emissions, the world is still difficult to achieve the provisions of the Paris Agreement The target of controlling heating up to 2 degrees Celsius.

Under such a special background, what practical significance does the release of the white paper have?

What signal does it send?

Wang Can

: The practical significance is embodied in that it can help the public to boost confidence and provide a fundamental way out for solving the climate problem.

On the one hand, dealing with climate change will inevitably face many contradictions and difficulties. We need the determination and confidence to anchor our goals.

The white paper shows the results of our climate governance in recent years, which can boost confidence.

  On the other hand, in the short term, we have the contradiction between energy supply and demand, and in the long term, we will face the contradiction between the traditional energy supply method and the environment and climate security.

The white paper provides a general direction for us to resolve these contradictions-adhere to the guidance of climate change, vigorously develop renewable energy, meet future energy demand through green and safe energy supply, and coordinately solve energy supply and demand problems. Address the challenges of climate change.

Pan Jiahua

: The signal sent by the release of the white paper is very positive.

First of all, although our country is the second largest economy in the world, we are still a developing country and our per capita income is still lower than the world average.

Under such circumstances, it is a responsible attitude for us to act like this, showing that China is making a positive and independent contribution.

  The second is to put pressure on developed countries that only speak out and chant slogans.

The average American emits 15 tons of carbon dioxide, more than double that of China and more than three times the world average.

The EU seems to be very advanced, but with the exception of relatively small economies such as Denmark and Finland, Germany and France have all made it clear that carbon neutrality will not be achieved until 2050.

  China's current urbanization process has not been completed, the industrialization process has not yet been completed, and people's income levels are still far below the world average. We are all working hard, so why don't they do better?

This is we are putting pressure on developed countries.

They can’t just talk, they have to speed up, they have to do better.

  Third, China is a developing country, and our ability to make such independent contributions is to set a benchmark for other developing countries.

Chinanews: The publication of this white paper reflects what China's status and role in this field internationally?

Wang Can

: China is a participant, contributor and leader in tackling global climate change.

We have the ability to play a leading role on some issues, such as providing ideas and Chinese experience in building a community with a shared future for mankind, a community of human and natural life, etc. We also contribute Chinese wisdom to the construction of international institutions in some bilateral and multilateral consultations. .

  Of course, under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, when it comes to specific issues and actions, the responsibilities and capabilities of developed countries and developing countries are still different. Developed countries should set an example in terms of funding and technical capacity building. .

  China's status and role will become increasingly prominent.

This is not only our initiative, but also a response to the expectations of the international community.

Because the fact of China's successful development lies there, everyone wants to see what China thinks, how it does, what it expects for the future, and China's attitude towards some issues.

  Of course, this also puts forward new requirements for the development of our country from another aspect, including personnel training.

In the future of global governance, the need for China to play an active role will increase. A large number of international talents who understand China’s situation and have a global perspective are needed. These talents need not only multidisciplinary expertise, but also multidisciplinary expertise when participating in international affairs. Need to have a wealth of practical experience.

This is indeed a major shortcoming that China urgently needs to make up for.