BEIJING China must act urgently on multiple fronts if it is to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its rapidly expanding cities and hit government targets for curbing carbon intensity, a new report from the World Bank said on Thursday.
Cities generate an estimated 70 percent of energy-related greenhouse gases and with China set to increase its number of urban residents by 350 million over the next 20 years, the Bank says the case for urgent action is strong.
"For the 12th Five-Year Plan period, a 17 percent reduction target for carbon intensity has been set," World Bank country director for China, Klaus Rohland, wrote in a foreward to the 588-page report. "Addressing cities' emissions will be a crucial element of this planned reduction."
China has set a goal of reducing the economy's carbon intensity by 40-45 percent in 2020 compared with 2005, while the Five-Year Plan covers the period from 2011-2015.
The report, titled Sustainable Low-Carbon City Development In China, says industry and power generation each contribute as much as 40 percent of city emissions. The remaining 20 percent of the carbon footprint is left by transport, buildings and waste.
The Bank called for energy-efficient buildings and industries, transport systems offering alternatives to cars, and better management of water and waste, making five key recommendations to achieve low-carbon city development.
"A few key complementary actions - on the land and municipal finance agenda, on facilitating coordination across different governmental entities - could help to empower city governments to effectively implement low-carbon action plans," Shomik Mehindratta, a co-editor of the report, said in the World Bank statement.
The report said it did not set out to be a compendium of best practice, but a collection of material building on analytical work and real investment project experiences.
To that end, the final chapter of the report is given over to an analysis of the financial instruments the World Bank has available to support the building of low-carbon cities in China.
The Bank said 67 percent of projects in its existing China lending portfolio had environmental, climate change, or low-carbon objectives.
"In the Chinese context, where the financial architecture to support low-carbon investments is still evolving, the expertise the World Bank has developed and its ability to blend different instruments to finance low-carbon projects represent a unique opportunity," the report said.
An update to the report is planned over the next 18-24 months to update the findings and lessons presented, as well as experience from the implementation of pilot schemes.
(Reporting by Nick Edwards; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)