Current Opinion

Carefully selected insights and analysis from China’s thought leaders on climate change and the low-carbon transition

The diversity of risks and opportunities across sectors results in variation in the ESG disclosure landscape with distinct indicators  

Zhang Junjie, Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, Duke Kunshan University

ESG essentially helps businesses identify risks and opportunities in environmental, social, and corporate governance. As a result, ESG disclosures reflect strong industry characteristics, with risks and returns varying significantly across different sectors. 

Taking the power industry as an example, thermal power sector may encounter significant risks in the transition process prompted by tightening climate policies. However, within these risks lie opportunities, such as the expansion of renewable energy sources, implementation of smart grid technologies, and development of electric vehicles. Meanwhile, for companies in agriculture-related sectors, the primary risk stems from climate-related issues. Both long-term climate change and extreme weather events can pose challenges to production, supply chain stability, and market expansion. Thus, it is essential to consider to what extent information in ESG disclosure will influence the company and the whole society. 

If we can demonstrate that investment in ESG helps businesses improve their operational performance, aligning shareholder interests with those of other stakeholders, then debates over whether to prioritize ESG will no longer occur.  

Link to the original article

New energy vehicles will play an indispensable role in emissions reduction in the transportation industry after carbon peaking   

Liu Daizong, East Asia Director, Institute for Transportation & Development Policy

Like other sectors, emissions reduction in the transportation industry requires simultaneous efforts in three areas: reducing (unnecessary travel), transitioning (transportation modes), and improving efficiency. New energy vehicles mainly fall under the latter area. 

During the phase leading up to carbon peaking, namely before 2030, transitioning transportation modes and reducing non-essential travel will play a more crucial role. However, after 2030, during the transition from the “peak” to “zero”, new energy vehicles will play a significantly important role. Without new energy vehicles, it will be very challenging for the transportation industry to achieve net-zero emissions. 

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China stood for developing countries’ actual needs during the first global stocktake  

Gao Xiang, researcher at National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation 

China has made significant contributions to the first global stocktake over the past two years. To dispel the misconception that climate ambition is solely indicated by numerical targets in commitments, China advocated for a holistic perspective, emphasizing the need to strengthen targets, enhance implementation, and improve the means of implementation, including finance, technology, and capabilities. 

China adopted a dual focus on both mitigation and adaptation, avoiding the trend of a narrow emphasis on emission reduction during the stocktake. It called on all nations to contribute to the global transition to sustainable energy based on their specific national circumstances and context, rather than simply imposing strict targets for phasing out fossil fuels. 

On finance, China underscored the crucial distinction between developed countries’ obligations and the global needs. China, with the support of other developing countries, demanded developed nations to prioritize and fulfill their international obligations. This demand is reflected in the global stocktake texts. Meanwhile, China also expressed concerns about developing countries’ finance needs and developed countries’ lack of compliance. 

(Originally published on World Environment, Vol.6, 2023) 

Link to the original article

China witnessed record-breaking high average temperature in 2023 

National Meteorological Centre

In 2023, the national average temperature in China hit 10.7°C, which was 0.8°C higher than usual annual level (9.9°C), breaking the record of 10.5°C in 2021 and setting a new all-time high. Most regions in the country experienced temperatures elevated by 0.5 to 1℃. Thirteen provincial areas, including Shandong, Liaoning, Xinjiang, Guizhou, Yunnan, Tianjin, Hunan, Hebei, Sichuan, Henan, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, and Guangxi, recorded their highest temperatures since 1961. Across the nation, a total of 127 meteorological stations saw their daily maximum temperatures surpassing or equaling historical extremes. 

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TTP newsletters track and unpack the latest discussions on climate change in China, helping to identify new trends, gaps, and opportunities in climate communication

Winter 2023

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Chinese climate scientists’ recent studies on impacts and attribution

Highlighting the negative impacts of climate change is an important way to raise awareness and motivate action. However, a common challenge in climate communications is the lack of local stories that readers can relate to and resonate with.

The situation is improving, including in China, as climate impacts become more visible and the volume of related studies keeps growing. Climate attribution, a method of quantifying the link between a specific extreme weather event and climate change, has made a special contribution.

In this winter edition of the TTP newsletter, we collect recent studies carried out by Chinese scientists that explain how climate change is affecting China and its various regions and examine the role of climate change in specific local extreme weather events.

Click here for the the full newsletter.

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