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Just Announced: U.S. Department of State Selects NRDC and Beijing as 2013 EcoPartnership Winners

Christine Xu

Posted July 11, 2013 in Curbing Pollution, Greening China, Solving Global Warming

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Co-authored with Mona Yew, Deputy Director of NRDC’s China Program, and Mingming Liu.

Today, the U.S. Department of State hosted the official ceremony to kick off a very exciting new project:  NRDC and Beijing Energy and Environment Protection Center (BEEC) have won a spot in the highly-selective EcoPartnership program and will be collaborating between now and 2015 to expand large-scale energy efficiency programs in China!

signing1.JPG U.S.-China EcoPartnership signing ceremony in Washington, D.C. on July 11, 2013 Mona Yew signing the Eco-Partnership with BEEC Vice Director, Zheng Shuanhu. Behind them are Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, and Minister Xie Zhenhua, China’s chief climate negotiator.

What does this mean?

The EcoPartnership program was founded under the Ten Year Framework for Cooperation on Energy and Environment signed by the U.S. and China during the 2008 Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED). The program is designed to foster sub-national collaborative projects between the two countries to further energy security, promote sustainable economic growth, and spur innovation, investment, and engagement on clean energy and environmental issues. As winners of the 2013 EcoPartnership program, NRDC and BEEC have gained international recognition and direct access to the best U.S. expertise and resources to advance global energy efficiency.

NRDC has been working in China for nearly two decades to push for energy efficiency programs in the industrial and buildings sectors. Our efforts paid off in 2010, when China issued national demand side management (DSM) regulations that set energy savings and demand reduction targets for grid companies. To further expand China’s demand side management efforts, the Chinese government launched a DSM Comprehensive City Pilot program to spur innovative program development and implementation at the city level. Four cities were selected – Suzhou, Tangshan, Foshan, and Beijing – to implement large-scale pilot DSM programs. Ultimately, China’s goal is to use these cities as successful case studies for others to follow.

While these four cities are eager to roll-out DSM programs, accomplishing the demand reduction targets is by no means an easy task.  Beijing, being a mega-city with 20 million residents, faces the dual challenge of meeting rising electricity demand and curbing air pollution.  In early 2013, northern China was blanketed by air pollution so thick it drew attention and criticism both domestically and internationally, which pushed Beijing to swiftly issue a series of steps aimed at tackling the problem. The issue at stake is even more urgent when health is taken into account: a recent report found that air pollution is shortening life expectancy by about 5.5 years for people living in northern China compared to the south, due to prolonged reliance on coal for heating. Not surprisingly, implementing large-scale energy efficiency programs continues to be a top priority for leaders in Beijing.  

This new EcoPartnership provides a much-needed and timely opportunity to better-equip Beijing (and China) in tackling air pollution issues. The goal of the partnership is to use DSM to reduce 800 MW of peak load that would otherwise be supplied by a standard coal-fired power plant by 2015. The BEEC is China’s biggest local organization specializing in energy conservation and environmental protection; as such, it was appointed by the Beijing municipal government to undertake DSM planning and implementation for the city pilot. NRDC has worked with BEEC in the past on building energy efficiency, helping BEEC acquire China’s first ever LEED-Gold certificate of an existing building retrofit. Now, we will use our extensive DSM experiences and bring best practices from the U.S. to help Beijing build a successful and replicable DSM program through policy research, technical support, program design and implementation, and capacity building training workshops.

The establishment of this green partnership (one of six selected in 2013) is a major step in the right direction and will reap mutual benefits: the U.S. will be able to introduce technologies and advanced tools to markets in China, while Beijing will be able to save 800 MW of peak load and set an example for national implementation. We are all very excited to continue expanding energy efficiency in China under the official capacity of the EcoPartnership program.

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Switchboard is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the nation’s most effective environmental group. For more about our work, including in-depth policy documents, action alerts and ways you can contribute, visit NRDC.org.

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