China releases comprehensive white paper on its climate change policy ahead of key international meetings.
Ahead of the high level technology transfer summit in Beijing next week; next December’s 14th Conference of Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Poznan, Poland, during which a general framework for a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012, will be hashed out; and of course, Halloween, the State Council of the central government has released a white paper on climate change policy titled “Comprehensive Plan on Climate Change.” This white paper also comes on the heels of China’s submission of a viewpoint paper to the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action of the UNFCCC on September 28.
While the 11,000 word white paper reads like a kitchen-sink of domestic policies that may seem to ring hollow given the institutional limitations that China observers have come to be so familiar with, the document does provide a good summary of the specific policy programs that China has enacted so far and of future policies that we can expect. Above everything else, the timing of the release of this document is highly strategic, ahead of the above mentioned meetings, as the white paper also states in no uncertain terms various policy positions that seem to have the north and the south heading towards climate deadlock. Read more
The seminar on Post-Bali UN Climate Change Conference: What Lies Ahead? was conducted today and we share some notes from the four speakers.
Dr Chen Gang spoke on the need for economic incentives to help in the success of post-Bali negotiations. Economic and social incentives are requisites for states to join international cooperation. The Bali conference emphasises incentives, such as the three flexible mechanisms and the new funding for adaptation in developing countries.
Dr Youngho Chang spoke on a sustainable post-Kyoto regime which needs to address unresolved issues such as the historical liability for accumulated carbon emissions by developed countries, and engagement plans for large current and potential carbon emitters. A post-Kyoto regime must include all countries, contributions by all, and tools for penalising non-compliance. The principles of efficiency and equity should be included.
Dr Geh Min gave her take on Singapore’s roadmap for climate change and the speech given by the Prime Minister in Bali. Singapore is unlikely to go for absolute reductions but will use carbon intensity as targets. Our strategy is on energy efficiency for the short to medium term, and renewable energy for the long term. There is also a need to develop capacity in the field of climate change and play catch-up as we are rather late in addressing the issues of climate change. Singapore is also supporting the idea of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD), which would not only reduce emissions but also reduce the haze problem and allow us to play a potential regional regulatory role in REDD.
Professor Kog Yue Choong addressed the issue of urban planning in Singapore and climate change. Due to our highly urbanised environment and lack of natural disasters, Singaporeans are less concerned about the environment. We are also less successful in changing behaviors such as littering, keeping the toilets clean, and recycling. He said that economic and business principles still underscore urban planning in Singapore. There is also ambivalence about whether planners should address sustainability and put it on the agenda. Singapore also have to relook its transportation sector, including getting our urban mobility right and studying the possibility of cross-subsidies for private to public transport.