GIZ/IASS Expert Roundtable in Beijing, China

Bei­jing, China

The expert round­table on the top­ic “Mobi­liz­ing the mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits of renew­able ener­gies in Chi­na: Build­ing new alliances – seiz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties – rais­ing cli­mate ambi­tions” brought togeth­er emi­nent thinkers to address options to spark polit­i­cal momen­tum for seiz­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ties linked to renew­able ener­gies in Chi­na. It explored how China’s tran­si­tion to the new ener­gy world unrav­els long­time trade-offs between eco­nom­ic, social and envi­ron­men­tal inter­ests and how China’s increas­ing­ly lead­ing role in inter­na­tion­al cli­mate diplo­ma­cy trans­lates back to imme­di­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for domes­tic devel­op­ment and welfare.

Rationale & Objectives

China’s econ­o­my is in the midst of an ener­gy rev­o­lu­tion and rapid­ly increas­ing the share of renew­able sources. Its 13th Five-Year Plan pre­pares the polit­i­cal ground to seize the social and eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties pre­sent­ed by renew­able ener­gy and to mit­i­gate the harm­ful impacts of the fos­sil ener­gy world.

Chi­na suf­fers from par­tic­u­lar­ly strong air pol­lu­tion, a great deal of which can be attrib­uted to the use of fos­sil fuels in ther­mal pow­er plants, indus­try and trans­port. Besides 1.6 mil­lion pre­ma­ture deaths annu­al­ly and eco­nom­ic dam­age that amounts to rough­ly 10% of China’s GDP, air pol­lu­tion increas­ing­ly jeop­ar­dizes Chi­nese efforts to attract inter­na­tion­al and nation­al tal­ent. As main con­trib­u­tor to glob­al cli­mate change, fos­sil ener­gy gen­er­a­tion also induces unprece­dent­ed eco­nom­ic and social risks for gen­er­a­tions to come.

On a pos­i­tive note, renew­able ener­gies enjoy a strong and increas­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty in Chi­na and in glob­al mar­kets for their mul­ti­ple social and eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits, such as addi­tion­al employ­ment cre­ation and indus­try devel­op­ment, the reduc­tion of fos­sil fuel imports, local val­ue cre­ation, and rur­al devel­op­ment through dis­trib­uted and afford­able pow­er gen­er­a­tion. Although Chi­na has seen sub­stan­tial invest­ments in renew­ables, their effec­tive deploy­ment and the tran­si­tion from the old to the new ener­gy world are still fac­ing severe con­straints. Evi­dence sug­gests that for Chi­na there are even greater eco­nom­ic, social and envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits linked to renew­able ener­gies which remain to be realized.

Guiding questions
  1. Iden­ti­fy­ing key ben­e­fits of renew­able ener­gies in Chi­na: what do we know, what do we need to know?
  2. How to con­tin­ue build­ing the enabling envi­ron­ment to seize the oppor­tu­ni­ties of the new ener­gy world in China?
  3. How can pub­lic sec­tor, research, inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion and the pri­vate sec­tor col­lab­o­rate to mobi­lize the mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits of renew­able ener­gies in China?
  4. How can the mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits of renew­able ener­gies be used more effec­tive­ly to con­vince deci­sion-mak­ers to take action for ener­gy sec­tor decarbonization?
Issues to be explored
  • Social and eco­nom­ic ben­e­fits of renew­ables as dri­vers of ener­gy transitions
  • 13th FYP as win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty: Cre­at­ing the enabling envi­ron­ment for seiz­ing the social and eco­nom­ic opportunities
  • From coal to renew­ables: max­i­miz­ing the win­ners of the ener­gy transition
  • Chi­na Renew­able Ener­gy Out­look: address­ing social, eco­nom­ic and envi­ron­men­tal benefits
  • Exist­ing bar­ri­ers to seiz­ing co-ben­e­fits and pos­si­ble new alliances for renew­able ener­gy implementation
  • Num­bers count: Spe­cif­ic needs for co-ben­e­fits assess­ments in view of an accel­er­at­ed ener­gy tran­si­tion in China