China in Need of $1trn to Fund Low-Carbon Cities

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Earlier, over 200 countries have been reported to have committed to supporting the national climate action pledges under the Paris Agreement. Also, US-based research organisation, World Watch Institute launched a report called ‘Can a City Be Sustainable?’ highlighting the climate efforts of a range of cities. The report covered the Chinese city of Shanghai.

Presently, a new report reveals that $1 trillion in investment is needed over the next five years to build low-carbon cities in China. The investment would cover the need for efficient buildings, low-carbon transportation, and clean energy technology.

The Green Finance for Low-Carbon Cities research report series is compiled by the Paulson Institute, Energy Foundation China, and the Chinese Renewable Energy Industries Association, and was launched at the second China-US Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Summit in Beijing last week.

According to former Mayor of New York City, Michael R. Bloomberg, the aim of the report series is “to set out a path for overcoming [obstacles] to making the kinds of investments that both protect public health and improve the economy” in cities across China.

The mayor also says that the report “identifies opportunities for cities to attract more private funding on projects, to reduce emissions in the building, transport, and energy sectors.”

The series is comprised of three separate reports, focusing on buildings, transportation, and energy. While the buildings report suggests that China will need to invest an estimated $254 billion if it is to meet its own green building targets, the transportation report shows that China requires a total investment of $684.9 billion to support the development of urban rail networks, buses, electric vehicles, public bicycle networks, and urban roads.

It seems China has chosen to finance the low-carbon infrastructure it needs to reach its climate goals, but funding may be a key challenge as the authors of the report indicated in the report.

Ma Jun, who chairs the Green Finance Committee, China Society for Banking and Finance, and supported the research, said: “Finance is at the heart of the economy, and green urban development in China cannot happen without support from green finance.”

Jun added: “Greening of buildings, transportation and energy will be crucial as these sectors are the main sources of urban emissions.”

The energy section of the report series shows that rapid population growth in China and accompanying urbanisation will result in “some less-developed cities in China…facing increasing pressure arising from their energy mix, while other developing small and medium cities are expected to experience huge growth in energy consumption.”

The authors of the report advise that “city administrators need to achieve triple targets: ensuring adequate supply of energy, minimising energy costs, and protecting the environment,” and that an estimated $77 billion is needed in investment to meet China’s growing energy needs

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