The Congressional Briefing of Low Carbon in China and North American Low Carbon Cities Tour Organized by the International Fund for China’s Environment
From November 13th to 19th, the 2016 China Low Carbon Event at the U.S. Congress and Low Carbon City Tour in North America took place in Washington, DC, Boston, and Detroit in the United States and Toronto, Canada. It was conducted by the International Fund for China’s Environment (IFCE), with support from the US Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI), the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Ford Foundation Beijing Headquarters.
Since 2010, the IFCE has been organizing China-U.S. climate dialogue, pushing forward the signing and implementation of international climate agreements. The China Low Carbon Event at the U.S. Congress and Low Carbon City Tour in North America aimed to provide Chinese experts and local officials with a better understanding of the latest low-carbon policies, action plans, and innovative practices in America and Canada at the local level, and to strengthen the interactions and mutual trust between U.S. and China. The conference also laid a firm foundation for the Paris Agreement and the China-U.S. cooperation. The 2016 delegation included Jiansheng Qu (Director of Lanzhou Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences), Lingling Mu (Secretary-general of Tianjin Green Supply Chain Association), Xinyue Liu (Senior Engineer of Sichuan Environment & Engineering Appraisal Center), Jian Liu (Vice President of Baima Lake Investment Development Co.), and Yaqin Gao (Deputy Director of Sichuan University Northwest Resource Development and Environmental Protection Research Institute). Among the activities and events were the congressional briefing, the China-US Climate and Low-carbon Roundtable Conference, and tours of Washington DC, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Toronto, Canada.
On November 16th, in the Russell Senate Office Building, the Chinese delegation presented their congressional briefing to more than 50 consultants and congressional assistants, and conducted in-depth climate discussion with these experts. In light of U.S. President Donald Trump’s unclear attitude towards the Paris Agreement at the time, this event vindicated the efforts of advocates fighting climate change , showcasing the effectiveness and determination of environmental improvement and the fight against climate change in China. During the congressional briefing, Prof. Jiansheng Qu introduced the Energy Saving and Emission Reduction Plan, highlighting the plan’s regional variations and emphasizing its goals for the future. Ms. Lingling Mu introduced the Green Market potential and Green Supply Chain development trend in China. Ms. Xinyue Liu presented the measurements local governments have taken in response to climate change, and discussed the differences in policy and function among various levels of government. After the presentation, the Chinese delegation answered questions on the connection between the Chinese Carbon Credit Market and the international market, the function of the local carbon emission trading system within the national trading system, the influence of the U.S. presidential election on China’s policy-making, the function of local non-governmental societies on the climate policy-making, and the application of climate research results. The delegation pointed out that the Chinese carbon market has a long way to go. Due to the lack of historical data on carbon emissions, there are several problems in Chinese carbon credit collection, including the over issue of permits. However, with the establishment of the China Premium Database, more and more climate data will be applied to the operation and management of the credit system. In response to questions about the US presidential election, the delegation predicted that the outcome would not influence the firm commitment the Chinese government had made to fighting climate change. Above all, the experts emphasized the importance of US participation in the global carbon emission reduction.
On November 15th, American and Chinese experts attended the roundtable conference at George Washington University. The key point of the conference was the implementation of the “Smart City” concept, and its influence on the emission reduction policy both nationally and locally. Experts in Smart City development from both China and the U.S. analyzed and discussed some core concepts of the project, such as big data, effects on climate change, and the challenges and changes both countries are facing. The Chinese delegation also visited the U.S. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), observed the profound effect C2ES had made on establishing the American climate change policy, and discussed viable cooperation between China and the U.S.
On November 14th, in the Boston Office of Environment, Energy and Open Space, experts and advocates had in-depth discussions with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) on the market strategy of climate change emission reduction standards, the carbon trading system and its implementation, and the planning and mechanism construction of the innovative low-carbon industrial park. During the discussion, Mr. Jian Liu discussed the background of the protection and development of Baima Lake, and the experience and lessons learned from the construction of eco-industrial parks and reserves. Ms. Lingling Mu introduced the green market need in China and the efforts and successful resultsof the Tianjin Energy Saving and Emission Reduction Project. The American officials and experts introduced related topics on the city of Boston, including urban construction, water resource management and planning, energy supply, and the importance of collaboration between the public sector, private sector and citizens on energy saving and emission reduction, as well as the challenges in their collaboration. Special emphasis was put on Boston’s impressive strategy for promoting community climate action and transportation coordination. After the talks, the Chinese delegation also visited Boston’s Raymond L. Flynn Marine Park, an industrial park dedicated to preserving Boston’s ocean trade, and the urban landscape design pilot project Harborwalk, a boardwalk featured heavily in the city’s waterfront revitalization plans. These tours facilitated a more comprehensive understanding of the combination of historical preservation and eco-industries in Boston.
On November 17th, the Detroit Seminar was held by the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative (DCAC). The main topic was the measures that the state of Michigan implemented for climate change emission reduction and the challenges related to these measures. Director of Policy Kimberly Hill Knot introduced the challenges of environmental justice in Michigan, and a senior technical consultant from DTE Energy explained how the DTE technology supported the clean energy plan. The American experts also introduced the idea of transferring clean energy plans to a clean energy society. The Chinese delegation presented on energy utilization in China and policy focus of the governments at all levels. In the afternoon, the delegation visited the NextEnergy Center, a new energy technology incubator dedicated to developing and piloting advanced energy and transportation technology.
From November 18th-19th, the delegation visited the Toronto government in Canada and the Evergreen-backed Cisco Toronto Innovation Center to learn about the city’s low-carbon development cases and the urban landscape renovation projects.
The 2016 China-US Roundtable Conference and Low-carbon City Touring in North America greatly promoted the communication in the low-carbon industry between the two countries. The visit not only increased understanding at the congressional and national level of Chinese and American efforts towards combating climate change, but also provided opportunities for experts from China, the U.S. and Canada to share successful green practices as well as advanced technology and management. Jiansheng Qu (Director of Lanzhou Library, Chinese Academy of Sciences) noted, “ This conference is of great benefit to the communication among peers in low-carbon and related fields, especially regarding the information on technology, policy, operation and achievements.” Vice President of Baima Lake Investment Development Co. Jian Liu said, “I learned the different interpretations and difficulties of low-carbon lifestyles in developed and developing countries, and the efforts of a low-carbon lifestyle in China have been successfully promoted and popularized.” Xinyue Liu, Senior Engineer of Sichuan Environment & Engineering Appraisal Center, expressed excitement for the conference’s impact, saying, “This visit to these four cities has been very meaningful to everyone on the team. I am extremely impressed by their fully-enacted publication and utilization of data, which is worth keeping as a reference for us. I am also amazed at the integration of various low-carbon applications into the new community construction by Evergreen during the renovation of an obsolete brickyard in Toronto. I hope I can introduce and spread these creative and meaningful ideas I learned during this visit to my future work.”