China: the new leading voice on climate change?

This is the first of a three-part blog series covering corporate sustainability in China. Experts from EDF Climate Corps examine how businesses are shifting the ways they approach energy management in response to increasing climate commitments.

This past June, 197 countries reaffirmed their commitments to reduce GHG emissions in an effort to curb global climate change. The U.S. was not one of them. This decision, a major backpedal for America, made room for a new frontrunner to take the reins on global climate leadership. And that’s exactly what has happened.

After President Trump backed away, China, the largest GHG emitter and coal consumer, recommitted to forge ahead with the Paris agreement. The nation recognizes climate change as a major challenge faced by all mankind and a threat to national security, which is why Beijing has deemed the Paris agreement its “highest political commitment”. China’s participation in any international agreement on climate is not only critical, it’s an opportunity to dominate the clean energy sector and inspire others to take action.

Manager, EDF Climate Corps

Here are three ways China is positioning itself to meet its targets (America, take note):

1. Enforce goals at every policy level.

China has set aggressive targets aimed at reducing the nation’s greenhouse gases that are supported and enforced by climate policies at the international, national and local level. This alignment allows for greater consistency and cooperation between the private and public sectors, enabling greater efficiency in working towards these common goals.

At the international level, China reaffirmed its promise to meet the commitments (working closely alongside the EU) outlined in the Paris agreement, including peaking CO2 emissions by 2030. Domestically, China has both short-and long-term plans to help ensure their energy goals are met. The Strategic National Energy Plan was completed this past April and China is on track to achieve its energy goals outlined in the 13th Five-year plan.

At the local level, cities have their own carbon-cutting plans. Shenzhen, one of China’s manufacturing hubs, aims to peak the city’s carbon emissions by 2022—eight years ahead of the national target. Companies, too, are ramping up their efforts.  For the past two years, EDF Climate Corps has placed four fellows in IKEA’s Shenzhen offices to help meet these targets by focusing on increasing the sustainability of the company’s supply chain (Stay tuned for more on this kind of corporate engagement in the next post of this series).

2. Invest in clean energy.

China continues to expand its dominance in renewable energy. Recently, they committed to investing $360 billion in clean energy development. According to China’s National Energy Administration, renewable energy already employs 3.5 million people in China (compared with less than a million in the US) and this new investment is expected to create 13 million more jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020. That’s enormous growth.  

The private sector is tapping into this market as well. Chinese companies already dominate among the most profitable clean energy companies in the world with 35% of the top 200 publicly traded corporations earning significant revenue from renewable energy being Chinese. Simply put, in China, clean energy is viewed as smart business and smart economics.

3. Use a multi-faceted approach:

Manager, EDF+Business

China is coming at climate change from all angles. In addition to the policy mechanisms and promotion of clean energy mentioned above, China is securing long-term investment and sustained financing to encourage innovation and the adoption of new technologies. For example, this year China launched five pilot zones to promote “Green Finance”, a vehicle aimed at raising funds for pollution clean-up.

Also this year, President Xi Jinping pledged to launch the world’s largest national carbon market; a decision EDF played an important role in by providing the Chinese government with critical technical support and consultation. The market will hasten the transition to a low-carbon economy and send a message to the world that China is serious about finding solutions. Additionally, this presents an enormous opportunity for the private sector to curb emissions. Companies are incentivized to innovate and reduce their emissions, selling excess allowances and opening up new revenue streams.

The road forward for China

The momentum we’re seeing in China is in sharp contrast to Trump’s America. It’s this strong leadership and creativity that is needed to address GHG emissions within China. And it sets an example for others to follow. Delivering on its many commitments and aspirations won’t be easy, but for China to declare them as necessary is a big step in the right direction–one that has the potential to create massive positive change.

In our next blog post, we’ll take a closer look into how companies are already making and delivering on plans to do their part in helping China achieve its climate commitments.


Follow Scott and Xixi on Twitter, @scottwood_, @Talk2Xixi


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EDF Climate Corps Proves its ROI for Private Equity Firms

As summer officially gets underway, the 2015 EDF Climate Corps fellows are already off to the races seeking out energy and cost-saving opportunities for some of the world’s largest companies and organizations. Among those participating, we are pleased to place 13 fellows with private equity firms and their portfolio companies, the largest such cohort in a single summer, besting last year’s record of 12 fellows. This brings the grand total up to 57 EDF Climate Corps fellows who have worked in the private equity sector (including with portfolio companies) to date.

EDF Climate Corps fellows Yien Huang (left) and Jiamu Lu (right) collaborating at the fellow training

EDF Climate Corps fellows Yien Huang (left) and Jiamu Lu (right) collaborating at the fellow training

Since 2008, EDF has worked with the private equity sector to drive environmental results, beginning with a partnership with KKR & Co. L.P., and later with The Carlyle Group and Oak Hill Capital Partners. Resulting from this work was a suite of free tools designed to help firms identify and manage environment, social and governance (ESG) issues. EDF Climate Corps offers private equity firms a powerful resource that continues to deliver environmental benefits alongside real financial returns.

This year, as in past years, we continue to see a diverse range of participating companies and projects:

  • In 2015, we welcome new hosts Guitar Center, NBTY (vitamin/food supplement supplier), Ortho Clinical Diagnostics (medical equipment manufacturer), Pharmaceutical Product Development, and Gelson's Markets (a grocery chain in southern California).
  • Among returning companies, we’re excited to welcome back Floor & Décor, Philadelphia Energy Solutions, Avaya, and Caesars Entertainment, the last of which was featured in episode 7 of the Showtime series Years of Living Dangerously (now available on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime), which profiled the efforts of EDF Climate Corps.
  • HCA Healthcare will also be returning, marking the company’s sixth straight year of participation.
  • KKR & Co. L.P., Carlyle Group, and Hellman & Friedman will have fellows working at the firm level this year.

The work that these fellows will engage in this summer ranges from energy benchmarking and efficiency upgrades to demand response assessments and green revolving loan fund design. We’ve written previously about the myriad ways that fellows can add value both at private equity firms and portfolio companies and we’re excited to see new stories unfold this summer. Watch this space as well as our Climate Corps-specific blog, where fellows across a variety of sectors will share their experiences and accomplishments.

Along with new EDF Climate Corps hosts, new project offerings in 2014

CC-200x300Environmental Defense Fund unveiled today the first group of participating organizations to sign on for EDF Climate Corps 2014, along with a revamped list of smart energy management offerings the program will provide for them. New host organizations including Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Dow Chemical Company and Jackson Family Wines join veteran participants like AT&T, Shorenstein Properties, PepsiCo, Caesars Entertainment and McDonald’s in choosing EDF Climate Corps as a cost-effective resource to advance organizational energy management. Read more

EDF Climate Corps Announces the First 36 Organizations to Sign Up for Energy Savings in 2013

New participants include Colgate-Palmolive, NYSE Euronext, General Motors and the City of Boston

"We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations," the President said Monday during his second inaugural address.

As we at EDF share the same sense of urgency he describes, the EDF Climate Corps team entered 2013 more determined than ever to work with companies, cities and universities across the nation to do more with less energy, curbing pollution and saving money.

To that end, we are excited to announce today the first 36 organizations to commit to doing just that through EDF Climate Corps in 2013. About half of the organizations on this list will be first-time participants this year. The other half will be repeat participants.

New organizations include:

  1. Baxter International
  2. Boston Housing Authority
  3. Boston Medical Center
  4. Boston Public Health Commission
  5. Children's Defense Fund
  6. City of Boston
  7. Colgate-Palmolive
  8. Cytec Industries
  9. DreamWorks Animation
  10. General Motors
  11. Glendale Community College
  12. International Warehouse Logistics Association
  13. Massachusetts Port Authority
  14. Mondelez International
  15. NYSE Euronext
  16. Office Depot
  17. PepsiCo Americas Foods
  18. Sprint
  19. Town of Cary (N.C.)

Repeat organizations include:

  1. Bank of America
  2. Caesar's Entertainment
  3. CA Technologies
  4. City of Cleveland
  5. DirecTV
  6. Genzyme (a Sanofi Company)
  7. Hilex Poly
  8. Ingersoll Rand
  9. JPMorgan Chase
  10. Mack Trucks
  11. New York City Housing Authority
  12. PepsiCo Americas Beverages
  13. QTS (Quality Technology Services)
  14. Shorenstein Properties
  15. Syniverse Technologies
  16. Verizon Communications
  17. Volvo Construction Equipment

The final deadline to apply for an EDF Climate Corps fellow for this summer is February 28, 2013. There are a limited number of spots available, so interested organizations are encouraged to apply now at edfclimatecorps.org. For more information, please email info@edfclimatecorps.org.


See what past participants have to say about the program in this one-minute testimonials video

Finding Common Ground: Boeing, Facebook, Verizon and more sign up for savings

What does “the world’s leading aerospace company” have in common with “the world’s largest casino entertainment company” or “the world’s largest social network?” Probably not all that much.  But Boeing, Caesars Entertainment, Facebook, Dunkin’ Brands, JPMorganChase and Verizon have all plugged into a cost-effective, proven solution for slashing energy bills:  EDF Climate Corps.

Environmental Defense Fund announced today  the first 20 companies to hire EDF Climate Corps fellows in 2012.  Participating companies span an array of industries from food and beverage to healthcare, and financial services to telecommunications, proving that anyone can tap into the trillion-dollar opportunity of energy efficiency.  How? By hiring an EDF Climate Corps fellow for the summer.

EDF Climate Corps fellows are specially trained MBA students who work hand-in-hand with your staff to identify and prioritize energy-saving measures.  During their summer engagements, they develop customized energy efficiency investment plans that cut costs and greenhouse gas emissions.  Since the program started in 2008, EDF Climate Corps fellows have uncovered over $1 billion in energy savings for participating organizations.

Just as the companies that join EDF Climate Corps represent a variety of sectors and sizes, they also come to us at many different points on the path to comprehensive energy management.  We’ve found that even companies that have pursued aggressive efficiency campaigns benefit from the fresh perspective and enthusiasm that these students bring to their mission.

“We believe this program will help us identify areas where we can reduce our energy consumption and build greater efficiencies into our manufacturing processes while we continue to build a stronger business that supports thousands of jobs across the nation,” said Mark Daniels, VP Sustainability & Environmental Policy at Hilex Poly.

We're actively recruiting companies for EDF Climate Corps program in 2012 — join us in the hunt for energy savings!  Matching of host organizations and EDF Climate Corps fellows is already underway, so interested companies should apply now at edfclimatecorps.org. For more information, please email info@edfclimatecorps.org.

As President Obama said in last week's State of the Union address, “the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy.” I think that's something everyone can agree on, and EDF Climate Corps is a great way to make it happen.

EDF Climate Corps places specially-trained MBA and MPA students in companies, cities and universities to develop practical, actionable energy efficiency plans. Sign up to receive emails about EDF Climate Corps, including regular blog posts by our fellows. You can also visit our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter to get regular updates about this project.