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Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to the deliberations of this Commission. My name is Deborah Seligsohn, and I am Senior Advisor to the China Climate and Energy Program at the World Resources Institute. The World Resources Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan environmental think tank that goes beyond research to provide practical solutions to the world’s most urgent environment and development challenges. We work in partnership with scientists, businesses, governments, and non-governmental organizations in more than seventy countries to provide information, tools and analysis to address problems like climate change, the degradation of ecosystems and their capacity to provide for human well-being.
NRDC’s Environmental Law Project has been actively engaged in environmental transparency projects in China for nearly five years in an effort to improve the use of environmental information to strengthen implementation of China’s environmental laws and policies, and to enhance public involvement in environmental protection. This is just one component of a suite of projects in China to improve environmental governance and to help China achieve its environmental and energy goals.
“Transparency in Environmental Protection and Climate Change in China”
Thursday, April 1, 2010
2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 628
This year looks to be the biggest Earth Hour thus far for the World Wildlife Fund in China. The WWF announced earlier this week that Beijing’s Forbidden City would be among the noted monuments around the world to go dark for the annual one-hour event on March 27 to raise environmental awareness. WWF China Director Dermot O’Gorman told me that hundreds of community organizations have signed on to participate, and the program now has 30 cities signed on in China almost double last year’s number. O’Gorman said cities like Earth Hour as a way to “show how they contribute to a global effort to raise awareness,” as well as linking the event to their energy efficiency campaigns.
The Chinese government’s top-level think tank, the Development Research Center, hosted its annual Forum this past weekend, with speeches by top Chinese government leaders, international Nobel laureates and other top economists, and global CEOs. While the major controversies raised at the conference concerned trade and currency (see for instance the Washington Post interview with Commerce Minister Chen Deming, who covered much of the same ground in his comments at the Forum), most of the actual focus of policy discussion was on Chinese economic restructuring and support for domestic demand.
There has been a lot of concern in the media (see Green Inc. and Washington Post articles) and in the U.S. Senate recently about stimulus grants for wind energy projects going to China and other foreign countries. On March 3rd, a group of Senators called for the suspension of the renewables grant program until rules had been passed that made sure projects used American components and labor. But there is more to that story than meets the eye.
Empirical evidence demonstrates that predictable support for wind power improves local manufacturing capacity and creates local jobs. Consistent support in the form of the stimulus and long term programs such as a Renewable Energy Standard will give investors the certainty they need to plan and create jobs in the United States.
China reported its commitment to a 40-45% reduction in carbon intensity by 2020, based on a 2005 baseline, by the Copenhagen Accord’s January 31 deadline. But there was still some ambiguity about China’s actual relationship to the Copenhagen Accord itself. Now China and India, as well, have written the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat.