Climate and Growth in China

07/03/2011 / Kaj

Some days ago in front of the Party congress the minister, Zhou Shengxian, said the government would take a more aggressive role in determining whether development initiatives contributed to Climate Change through a new system of risk assessment. China is the world’s biggest consumer of energy and largest emitter of greenhouse gases. And even the new efficiency goals assume that China’s overall energy consumption will grow, to meet the needs of the nation’s 1.3 billion people and its rapidly expanding economy.

I’m looking back to 2007 from when I have some vivid memories.(slideshow) or You Tube version

“Driving on motorways and small bumpy roads in one of the biggest coalmining districts in China with the Mayor of the local municipality.Bijie The Mayor’s city area is equivalent to over 60 per cent of Sweden. We are in search of coal mines that may be interested in Swedish environmental technology and have looked at some ten mines this day. My empressions have becoming entrenched in the memory. The needs are enormous. The diesel exhaust that forms black clouds after each truck carrying coal sticks in our throats. Up and down the mountain passes; not so much roads as routes requiring skill and a good deal of luck to navigate. Potholes in the road surface are felt in every limb. In this municipality, carbon from both private and state companies that transform coal to energy is distributed over the whole of southern China. Coal currently accounts for 70 per cent of China’s energy supply.

Here you will find the uninterested private mine owners who do not listen to local government and who do not want to improve the environment. It costs too much they say, and would rather invest their private assets in real estate in Beijing that gives a better return. Every year more than a 100 people die from gas explosions in the small privately owned mines. There are many challenges for the local government in the municipality. This region is also developing a strong environmental interest and it is in this interest that we now direct our hopes.

Can Swedish environmental technology find its way to the local government?

The environment in the region really inspires me, not to mention the challenges the coalmines create. The natural surroundings are not only filled with black smoke, the valley and hills are also abundant in colourful Rhododendrons and Azaleas. Managed properly, the area could become a popular tourist attraction to help offset what the mining industry is dong to the landscape.

So my concern this week as the Chinese discuss their future investment is:

What initiatives will the Chinese government be taking to minimise the effect of Climate Change and what investments are they planning to reduce the environmental impact in the coalmining districts?

Kaj Embrén

PS See also A Guide to China’s 12th Five-Year Plan

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