This story was originally posted on the CAN International blog.
Chinese people like simplifying things. So I’d like to use four key words (all of which initial with initial C) to take you through a brief update at what we (the Chinese NGOs) are doing in China to combat climate change.
It might be too early to say it is another climate year in China since Copenhagen. But for sure there are a lot going on within China now regarding climate policy-the air is heating up (or let’s say cooling down, since we are reducing more GHG emissions?:)
1) 12th FYP
Five year plan (FYP) is the macro economic and social development plan that the central government issues every five years which sets the direction for the country with specific targets. This March, Beijing launched the 12th FYP (2011-2015). Building on the energy intensity target of 11th FYP (as 20% reduction of 2010 compared to 2005), it includes three key quantitative targets related to climate: energy intensity (reduction rate of 16%), carbon intensity (of 17%) — both with 2010 as baseline, and increase the renewables in the overall primary energy consumption to 11.4% from the current, little more than 8%.
It also marks the first time that in our FYP, there is a dedicated chapter on climate change, with three sub-sector: adaptation, mitigation and international cooperation. It’s not called ‘energy security’, nor ‘low carbon development’ , it is called the ‘climate change’ sector. This shows that climate change is at the center point of China’s domestic policy.
2) Programs and projects
The targets look motivating, but can be also pointless without solid implementation plans. There have been quite concrete projects and programs to meet the above targets. The ‘five Provinces and eight cities program’ selected 13 cities and provinces all over China to develop low carbon plans and its supporting policy framework, including climate change work on local strategy, educating the public on green lifestyles and setting-up measurement system of GHG emissions. 100 cities have been piloted as renewable showcase cities. Grid companies are asked to take measures to reduce electricity usage by customers by 0.3% compared to last year (Demand Side Management). And Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Hunan have been selected to test emissions trading scheme with the expectation to launch by 2013 and roll out by 2015. The ’10 cities and 1000 vehicles’ program is set to support electric vehicle promotions.
3) Climate Change Law
The NDRC is also drafting the first climate change legislation in China, aiming to finish the first draft by early 2012 to the being latest 2013 (overall timeline is 2011-2015). Many crosscutting issues are planned to include in this so-called ‘practice-oriented’ law such as institutional structure, emission trading, CCS, low carbon development. Public consultation is also on-going.
1) Working together – CCAN
Chinese NGOs do have difficulties regarding vague legal status, lack of resources, and sometimes capacity. But many NGOs (typically environmental ones) have been working on various issues related to climate in through approaches. Realizing ‘together we are stronger’, we have been working together centered around CCAN for several years. Building on the collaborations over Tianjin and Cancun last year, this spring the NGOs sat together to reflect what we have done and discussed how we could work together better. Two working groups were formed since then – one on policy and one on action. And the policy working group came up with a concrete yearlong plan with scoping of NGO competence, study group (capacity building scheme), working on COP and climate law, etc. We have held regular meetings and online discussions to progress our planned work.
2) Interaction with the government
In the past, Chinese NGOs, especially grassroots, focused our work primarily on campaigning (influencing the public and communities to act on climate change) and policy was an area we did not cover much due to political sensitivity and our own capacity gap. Hence the interaction with government was also somehow hidden in our work (not in a regular, coordinated and effective manner). The climate topic gives us a golden opportunity (since the government is more and more open to the NGOs regarding this topic). We’ve (by we I mean not only Chinese NGOs but also international NGOs working in China like Greenpeace, WWF, Oxfam, etc) been holding regular meetings collectively with NDRC to exchange our views and seek ways to enhance our policy work. The last one was held last week on the topic of climate change law. For us this journey has just started, but is definitely challenging and interesting.
1) COP working plan
We are planning to continue the regular policy working group meeting monthly as well as interacting with the government regularly. A ‘China day’ event has been planned before Durban to showcase the NGO work. A filming campaign is also set to record stories from all over China from bottom-up work on climate issues. Exchanges with international NGOs (e.g the Europeans) are also planned.
2) RIO+20 working plan
Rio+20, to be held next year, will focus on the green economy under the background of poverty eradication and sustainable development. This is highly linked with our climate work. Three working streams have been identified: following negotiations and policy advocacy, collaborating with international NGOs, and review and assessment of China’s 21st century agenda implementation from the NGO perspective.
A bigger plan is under way, which could set our work within a bigger framework to increase our impact, streamline our direction, and support a stronger voice. We call it C+ in light of ‘beyond COP, beyond Climate and beyond China’, aiming at mobilizing all citizens, the business sector, schools, communities, etc. to do more than what the governments have plagued.
The South Capacity Building program of CAN offers me a great chance, at this crucial moment, for international negotiation and also for China’s domestic green pathway building up, to learn, to network, to connect Chinese NGOs (especially our policy work) with CAN, and to expand the cooperation.
For sure, there is a long way to go, both for myself and Chinese NGOs, but I am confident Bonn would be a nice step forward.
About the authorLina Li
Lina is currently working as consultant for Shanshui Conservation Center and Ecofys and she is a board member of China Youth Climate Action Network.