In a series of blog posts curated by the World Economic Forum’s Climate Change Initiatives, a number of leading voices will present their perspectives on climate change. Contributions are linked to the Forum’s Green Growth Action Alliance project and the Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Climate Change. In the following post, Wu Changhua, Director, Greater China Climate Group, and Co-Chair of the Global Agenda Council on Climate Change, adds a perspective from China.

Today, a very often-asked question on China and climate change is how the new leadership views the issues and what steps are expected to be taken in the coming decade. Well, there seems to be no mystery around this question. Clean revolution or eco-civilization has been clearly stated and elevated to the top agenda by the new leadership, which just took office in China.

Domestically, the country will carry on its commitments to energy, resource saving and clean energy as laid out in its current 12th Five-Year Plan. Meanwhile, more ambitious policy targets are being explored, including cap-and-trade, with seven local piloting schemes to take off in 2013. Shifting the fuel structure towards non-fossil-based energy is another national priority, with targets clearly set at the national and local level, and programmes and projects developed to promote the deployment of renewable energy at the facility, community and city level.

Internationally, with Doha around the corner, the new leadership is expected to honour the current commitment to a carbon intensity target of at least 40-45% by 2020 over the 2005 level. With an increasing level of confidence through domestic efforts, we could expect China to play a more constructive role in the international process.

I have encountered lots of expectations from around the world in terms of China’s leadership in the global process. It depends on how you define leadership. If it is about taking serious actions to tackle the challenges on the domestic front, I have to say that China has been an increasingly recognized leader with a demonstrable track record. If it is about global commitment on a more aggressive level, say capping the emissions in the near future, I believe the new leadership will continue to examine the issue and make its commitment based on solid analysis and forecasting rather than on “passion”.

Although we don’t expect anything dramatic from the upcoming Doha process, we all know there are some fundamental elements that need to be secured to continue the international process. They include a second commitment period, a continued “common but differentiated responsibility principle” and clarity on the Green Climate Fund in terms of sources of capital, among other issues.

While increasing efforts have been made and experience has been gained in mitigation, awareness is rising on the inadequacies of efforts made on adaptation. As an emerging topic compared to mitigation experience, adaptation has become one of the focal issues for such international platforms as the World Economic Forum. One of the Forum’s 88 Global Agenda Councils has been designated to take the lead on addressing this issue.

At the recently concluded Summit on the Global Agenda in Dubai, the Council agreed to convene the resources available to examine the matrix and climate smart financing matter and engage the most critical stakeholders for action mobilization. Equally critical is the fact that adaptation cannot be addressed in silos; instead, it cuts across many other sectors including food and agriculture, water, energy, land use and coastal regions, emerging technologies and financing. To effectively address adaptation, integration and connectivity would be required to link all key issues in terms of knowledge, policy, resources, technology and capital.

Author: Wu Changhua, Director, Greater China Climate Group, and Co-Chair of the Global Agenda Council on Climate Change

Image: A coal-burning power station is seen on the outskirts of Beijing REUTERS/David Gray