China’s Dream of Becoming a Low-Carbon Economy

Xiaomeng Lu photo

Xi Jinping mentioned the new political slogan “the Chinese dream” numerous times in his first speech to the nation as the President of China in March 2013.  But what does it mean?  To put the dream into practice, it appears the Chinese government’s first priorities are to improve food safety and address the pollution problem in China.

In response to the toxic smog in Beijing and other major cities, the National People’s Congress (NPC) started revising China’s Environmental Law dated 1989.  On June 27, the proposal went through the second round of NPC committee discussion and generated considerable public interest.  The draft revision elevates environmental protection to the unprecedented level of a national strategy.  Polluters and government officials who fail to carry out environmental audits will face heavy penalties or even lose their jobs.

More importantly, the draft specifies, “Environmental standards shall be determined by scientific methods and in line with China’s conditions.”  The ICT industry promotes a science-based policy approach on environmental and sustainability issues.  ITI member companies long have invested in this area and have accumulated tremendous experience in environmentally sound industrial practices around the globe.  We believe the interests of industry and government in environmental protection are aligned.

In addition, we recommend the Chinese lawmakers take further steps to recognize the role of ICT in enabling a low-carbon economy.  ICT is an amplifier of industrial development, contributing to industrial upgrading while being much less emissions-intensive than other industries.  The ICT industry enables energy and emission savings through monitoring and optimizing energy use (such as in heating, lighting, and industrial processes), optimizing product and service provision (such as through smart logistics, transport, and traffic controls), and by enabling substitution of virtual services, travel, products, and shipping.  We strongly encourage the Chinese government to consider promoting a low-carbon economy by adopting ICT applications that provide greater environmental benefit across sectors.

The bigger wave of environmental law making in China is yet to come.  We expect the legislative proposals in the upcoming months to include the development of the following:  Air Pollution Prevention; Water Pollution Prevention; Solid Waste Environmental Legislation; and Earth Pollution Prevention.  The Chinese government has pledged to invest nearly $1 trillion towards the prevention of air pollution and water pollution.  

As we have noted before, the technology sector shares the belief that innovation must be at the heart of long-term energy solutions.  That’s true whether the policies are in China, the U.S., or elsewhere around the globe.  We have worked consistently to advance initiatives that help to drive economic growth through technology-enabled energy efficiency and clean energy innovation.  As China pursues its dream, as U.S. policymakers consider President Obama’s recent Climate Action Plan, and as other nations develop their own initiatives, ITI is ready to help drive the development of job-creating, innovative options to address the challenge of low-carbon future.

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