By Haibing Ma

Guangdong is releasing a series of policies to ensure a green future. ©

According to media reports, Guangdong province has taken the lead in becoming the pioneer of low-carbon practices in China. Guangdong is one of 13 pilot regions—including five provinces and eight municipalities—that the Chinese government has selected to explore low-carbon development. So far, it is the only pilot region that has issued a comprehensive plan for this development and had it approved by the central government.

In January 2012, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) reviewed and then “approved with positive comments” Guandong’s “Implementation Plan for Low-Carbon Pilot Programs.” Although this plan has not been made public, it reportedly lays out eight “key actions”:

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12th Five-Year Plan, cap and trade, carbon emission, carbon intensity, China, emission trading, energy intensity, green development, Guangdong province, low-carbon, MRV, NDRC, pilot program, statistics

According to a new report from Renmin University, in 2005–09 there were significant differences between China’s statistical data for provincial energy use when aggregated using local government data versus when calculated by a province as a whole. This gap between bottom-up and top-down statistics is also evident at the national versus provincial level.

2011 GDP growth rate: goals claimed by individual provinces are significantly larger than national target of 8%

It’s a well-known fact that the mismatch between national statistics and aggregated provincial data is an ongoing challenge in China. Reports indicate that in recent years, estimates for national energy consumption using aggregated provincial data have been up to 15 percent higher than the national total figure.

And it’s not just energy data that faces accountability issues. The aggregate of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) statistics reported by local governments, for instance, is often larger than the overall national figure released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). In 2004, the aggregate provincial GDP surpassed the national figure by almost 20 percent. After that, the gap shrank significantly but increased again in the past five years. The 2010 national and provincial GDP data still show an 8 percent gap.

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cap and trade, capacity building, China, energy consumption, energy efficiency, energy intensity, GDP, GHG inventory, statistics

IRENA logoStarting yesterday, a new international organization dedicated to the “rapid development and deployment of renewable energy worldwide” officially powered up. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) will function much like the International Energy Agency (IEA): collecting and analyzing statistics, providing policy suggestions, facilitating partnerships and financing across countries, promoting research and development, and creating technical codes and standards—but only for renewable energy. Still, significant challenges await the fledgling agency if it hopes to promote renewable energy worldwide. An earlier attempt at an international hydrogen fuel agency provides a cautionary example.

One question is what counts as renewable. The agency’s website is filled with descriptions and pictures of wind turbines, solar panels, and even waste-to-biogas plants in China. While no universal definition of “renewable energy” exists, IRENA has made clear what it won’t address—nuclear is out, but so is energy efficiency.

As Frauke Theis reported earlier in this blog, the IEA sees a big place for technologies like nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) in reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Not so IRENA. Before the Copenhagen climate negotiations, IRENA issued a statement condemning the IEA’s support for nuclear and CCS in carbon markets. Energy efficiency receives much better treatment, at least gaining mention in the agency’s 2010 Work Programme where nuclear does not, but it is clear that the focus will be on promoting electricity production from renewable energy, and not on energy savings.

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