Climate Action

$1trn needed for low-carbon cities in China

$1 trillion in investment is needed over the next five years to build low-carbon cities in China, according to a new report

  • 14 June 2016
  • William Brittlebank

$1 trillion in investment is needed over the next five years to build low-carbon cities in China, according to a new report.

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.

Mr Bloomberg who writes in the introduction to the report’s executive summary, 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 initial conclusions of the report show that $1 trillion is required over the next five years to build low-carbon cities in China.

Investment is needed for efficient buildings, low-carbon transportation, and clean energy technology.

Bloomberg, who is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, and Founder of Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Philanthropies, said: “China has set an ambitious goal of peaking national carbon emissions around 2030, wisely recognising that economic growth and fighting climate change go hand in hand.”

Mr Bloomberg who is also President of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group added: “That leadership helped make the Paris climate agreement possible – and now, China is looking for creative ways to finance the low-carbon infrastructure needed to reach its climate goals.”

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 series is comprised of three separate reports, focusing on buildings, transportation, and energy.

The buildings report suggests that China will need to invest an estimated $254 billion if it is to meet its own green building targets.

A key challenge facing the green buildings sector in China is a lack of funding and the report says “although energy efficiency practices are often included in designs…without sufficient funding few projects develop past the design phase.”

The transportation report in the series shows that China has made ambitious plans for its transport sector, which 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.

Funding received a boost during China’s recent 12th Five-Year Plan, but the country’s “overall development of green transportation infrastructure … still lags behind many foreign cities that enjoy advanced green transportation development” according to the report.

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.