China explores digital path toward carbon neutrality goal

By Zhu Bochen
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, September 9, 2021
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China's environmental authorities and internet companies on Tuesday proposed to tap into the potential of the green economy and coordinate industrial digitalization with low-carbon development, in a bid to better tackle climate change and deliver China's carbon neutrality goal.

The proposal was made at the first China Digital Carbon Neutrality Summit, an event for environmental and internet policymakers, scholars, and industrial leaders to discuss and explore digital solutions for the country's green and low-carbon transition.

According to the proposal, all industries are encouraged to apply digital technologies, such as big data, cloud computing, blockchain and AI, for their low-carbon transformation. Eco-friendly technologies will also be adopted to optimize China's energy structure, improve energy efficiency, and help people develop green lifestyles.

Aerial photo taken on Dec. 15, 2020 shows a solar thermal electricity project in Gonghe county, Hainan Tibetan autonomous prefecture in northwest China's Qinghai province. [Photo/Xinhua]

In September last year, China unveiled that it aimed to attain its carbon dioxide emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. 

Such efforts have been renewed later in the country's 14th Five-year Plan (2021-2025), which stipulates that China's energy consumption per unit of GDP and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP will be reduced respectively by 13.5% and 18% between 2021 and 2025. It also aims to increase the share of non-fossil energy in total energy consumption to about 20%.

All these targets add urgency to the transformation and upgrade of traditional industries. Wu Hequan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, believed that achieving these targets required joint efforts to adjust the energy structure and industrial composition, as well as carbon sink.

As far as Wu is concerned, green development, electrification, and digitalization are key to reducing carbon emissions. "The realization of the carbon emission poses both opportunities and challenges to the IT industry," Wu said at the summit on Tuesday. "What matters is to strengthen technological innovation and use it to achieve carbon footprint reduction."

Still, given the uncertainties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, many experts at the summit called for joint efforts from the international community to address climate change based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

Most recently on Sept. 7, Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng met via a video link with Alok Sharma, president-designate of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). The two sides agreed that China and Britain should strengthen dialogue and cooperation to tackle climate change.

Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, meets with Alok Sharma, president-designate of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), via video link in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 7, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

"We spoke about the importance of climate action, our goals for the COP26 and COP15 (the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity), and opportunities for enhanced UK-China cooperation on clean energy, low carbon trade and investment and green finance," Sharma tweeted on Tuesday, calling the discussion "constructive."

Xie Zhenhua, China's special envoy for climate change affairs, also held a meeting with Sharma in Tianjin last Sunday to exchange ideas concerning bilateral cooperation on climate issues and the preparations for the COP26.

Over the years, China and Britain have maintained a good cooperative relationship in tackling climate issues. Back in June 2014, the two sides released the China-UK Joint Climate Change Statement, which agrees to intensify bilateral policy dialogue and practical collaboration. In October 2020, the then Chinese Ambassador to Britain Liu Xiaoming also pointed out the enormous potential for the two sides to join hands especially in promoting "renewable energy, green finance, and green Belt and Road," in a bid to "boost green recovery" in both countries and the rest of the world.

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