A growing sense of responsibility in China
In line with its pledge for sustainable development during COP 21, China is investing strong efforts in changing its status as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG). After two decades of strong industrialisation, China's economic growth is currently driven much less by carbon-intensive services and technologies. Following are actions the Mainland has taken to curb its GHG emissions:

- Capturing GHG emissions: the Yanchang integrated carbon capture and storage project, located in Shaanxi Province, is Asia's first investment in a facility that turns GHG from coal into gas fuel. Once fully operational in 2018/2019, it is expected to capture about 400,000-800,000 tons of GHG emissions yearly.
- Launching the world's largest carbon trading scheme: last year China launched a nationwide carbon market, the world's largest cap-and-trade programme. It covers six of the biggest carbon-emitting sectors, starting with coal-fired electricity generation.
- Increasing renewable capacity: China has emerged as a leader in renewable energy. Related investment soared from US$39 billion to US$111 billion in just five years, while electric capacity from solar power grew 168-fold and wind power quadrupled.
- Launching green finance: China has launched five pilot zones (Guangdong, Guizhou, Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Xinjiang) to promote 'green finance' with a yearly incentive of about 3 trillion yuan.
- Recovering forest stock: China increased its forest stock by 2.68 billion cu m in the last decade, exceeding its goal.
- Cleaning up cars and trucks: as the world's largest car market, China is pulling old and inefficient cars off the road and providing incentives for buying hybrids and electric cars, with strict enforcement of fuel-efficiency standards for new cars.
- Enhancing building energy efficiency: since 2014, the Chinese government has strictly required building energy efficiency upgrades. The energy savings are just beginning to be felt, but there could be a long payoff period, since buildings can last for decades or even centuries.
- Limiting coal use: China recently released an energy strategy consisting of capping coal consumption by 2020, a three-year moratorium on new coal mines and the shutting down of existing mines.

In sum, China has achieved its first carbon intensity reduction goal of up to 97% and the remaining two goals are more than 60% achieved.

The article is contributed by Ir Dr Alex Gbaguidi, with the coordination of the Environmental Division.
Explore Hong Kong Engineer