On the afternoon of September 5th, the Economy and Technology Sub-session of the 2021 Taihe Civilizations Forum was held online and on-site at the Presidential Hotel in Beijing. Government officials and experts in the areas of climate change, digital and information technologies, and finance, along with leading entrepreneurs from China, the U.S., Germany, Somalia, Colombia, and other countries attended the event. Adopting the theme, “Responsibility and Opportunity—the Technology Driving Forces for Peaking of Carbon Emissions and Carbon Neutrality,” the sub-session featured in-depth discussions and exchanges on how China can achieve the carbon pledges of “Carbon Peak” by 2030 and “Carbon Neutrality” by 2060 as scheduled, how various sectors can contribute to the realization of the carbon pledges, and how countries can strengthen technological exchanges and cooperation to fulfill the carbon pledges. At the same time, the Forum also released the research results of the Carbon-Related Indexes, including the Carbon Emissions Index, the Carbon Goal Index, and the Carbon Economy Index, which have been applied in real situation in China.
Mr. Wu Hailong, President of China Public Diplomacy Association, noted that carbon peak and neutrality are difficult but crucial tasks in addressing climate change. But with so little time left for our generation and the next, we must never hesitate to do our part. To achieve commitments in the carbon pledge, we need a big-picture mindset, confidence and determination, and the motivation to work relentlessly toward our shared goals.
Mr. Vladimir Norov, Secretary-General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), said that all member states of the SCO are endeavoring to reduce carbon emissions and realize carbon neutrality, which has led to a number of important policy decisions that focus on improving peoples’ way of life, enhancing productivity, ensuring food security, preventing natural disasters, and strengthening energy autonomy.
Dr. Hans-Peter Friedrich, Chairman of China Brücke and Vice-President of the German Parliament, said that in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set forth by the United Nations, it is vital to ensure environmental protection, respond to climate change, and mitigate the impacts of climate change. We must integrate the SDGs into our institutions, economic structure, technical goals, and social consciousness. Real changes need to take place in everyday life and business activities in order to achieve a sustainable society.
H.E. Mr. Djauhari Oratmangun, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to China, pointed out that in terms of carbon peak and neutrality, China and Indonesia have common aspirations and capacities that complement each other. Indonesia and China have cooperated with each other extensively, from investment, construction, operations to technology, knowledge transfer, and human resources development. Indonesia and China are well-poised to cooperate on renewable energies as well.
H.E. Mr. Awale Ali Kunllane, Ambassador of Somalia to China, expressed the idea that the system for global climate governance should be strengthened so as to benefit the least-developed countries. The most developed countries must lead global cooperation in providing an idea-exchange platform for global decision-makers, stakeholders, and the scientific community.
Mr. Li Junfeng, First Director of National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation, and Executive Director of China Energy Research Society, said that carbon neutrality is an inevitable trend. Countries, regions, cities, and enterprises have come to realize that they cannot become an island while the rest of the world is striving to achieve carbon neutrality. We can achieve a carbon-neutral future only if we face challenges head-on.
Ms. Lu Peili, Fellow of Taihe Institute, Researcher at the Shanghai Jiao Tong Antai College of Economics and Management (ACEM), and a Frequent Guest Lecturer at China Financial Futures Exchange, said that China needs to design its own international carbon pricing index. Data is vital to reducing carbon emissions. Carbon data is what powers the carbon algorithm, just like water is to a boat. The carbon trading market highlights the role of the industry on the international trade stage. We must promote carbon finance. Ms. Lu also noted that innovative technologies for carbon peak and neutrality could not be possible without the efforts of state-owned enterprises, small- and medium-sized companies, and research institutes.
During the Forum, participants had extensive discussions on several topics such as “Technological Requirements and Technical Paths to Achieve the Carbon Pledges,” and “Top-Level Mechanisms and Policies Required to Guarantee Technology Driving Forces,” among others.
Mr. Pan Benfeng, Deputy Director of Hebei Advanced Environmental Protection Industry Innovation Center, and Deputy Director of Joint Engineering Research Center of Ecological Environment Internet of Things and Big Data Application Technology, said that China needs to step up its efforts in basic research on emissions monitoring and evaluation, which will provide a reliable evidence base to fulfill its carbon peak and neutrality pledges by 2030 and 2060, respectively.
Mr. Bai Yunfeng, President of CPCEP Group, Vice Chairman of China Youth Entrepreneurs Association, stressed that traditional low-carbon industries, modern energy and energy storage industries, and carbon finance should forge ahead at a coordinated pace in order to achieve both carbon peak and neutrality goals.
Mr. Zhang Zhuting, Senior Fellow of Taihe Institute, Director of Development Research Center of Transport Management Institute of Ministry of Transport of the P.R.C., and Professor of Law, pointed out that transportation plays an important role in achieving carbon peak and neutrality goals, and related factors and linkages in the whole transportation industry should be involved in low-carbon transformation.
Mr. Ding Yifan, Senior Fellow of Taihe Institute, said that compared with other industrialized countries, China’s carbon emission reduction task is heavier, while the time set to achieve the task is shorter. In recent years, China has made great progress in the promotion of new energy and sustainable development models. Only by implementing the green development model faster, can we seize new technological heights in the world economy and achieve high-quality development.
Mr. Sun Tianyin, Deputy Director of Research Center for Green Finance Development of Tsinghua University, said that the carbon neutrality pledge shows China’s responsibility as a major country and is necessary for China to gain the upper hand in future global economic competition. There are both opportunities and challenges on the path to achieving carbon neutrality. We must resort to orderly transformation.
Mr. Thorsten Jelinek, Senior Fellow of Taihe Institute, Director of Taihe Institute Europe Center, and Associate Director at the World Economic Forum (2011-2014), mentioned that while cyberphysical systems and federated digital platforms can significantly contribute to intelligent decarbonisation, governance and global cooperation remain the most important aspect of reaching carbon zero. The discussions are also reflected in Taihe’s contribution to the T20/G20 process in Italy this year.
Mr. Sun Yongfu, Senior Fellow of Taihe Institute, and Director of European Affairs Department of Ministry of Commerce (2003-2015), concluded that China’s carbon pledge is now among the hottest domestic topics, and we need to deal with it in a sober manner. To realize the carbon peak and neutrality pledge, China needs a systemic transformation of its social economy. The country certainly enjoys technological advantages in several fields. However, the achievement of the carbon pledge still has a long way to go and requires the participation and support of people from all walks of life.
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