Environment China is a bilingual podcast from the Beijing Energy Network. The show features conversations with advocates, entrepreneurs, and experts working in the environmental field in China.
Green finance on the Belt and Road – with Christoph Nedopil-Wang
In this episode, we discuss the important topic of green finance in China, especially as it relates to China’s investments abroad on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Our guest today is Christoph Nedopil-Wang, Associate Professor and Director of the Green Finance & Development Center, Fudan University, where he works on green finance. Christoph also previous worked in Beijing at the International Institute of Green Finance (IIGF), as well as at GIZ. He also joined us here at Environment China in December 2020 to introduce the traffic light system of evaluating BRI projects.
One of the reasons we’re coming together to talk today is the recent publication of an article in the Asia Pacific Policy Studies journal, which Christoph wrote together with Mathias Lund-Larson, Mengdi Yue and Yao Wang. You can find a link to the article in the show notes, but the full title is “Prospects of the Multilateral Cooperation Center for Development Finance (MCDF) to catalyse infrastructure financing.”
Other topics we discuss are:
whether the traffic light system for evaluating BRI project impacts on the environment has had any impact, why China decided tProspects of the Multilateral Cooperation Center for Development Finance (MCDF) to catalyse infrastructure financingo ban financing for new coal plants overseas, whether the recent policy to make BRI projects apply international ESG standards is having an effect, and why it was adopted now, instead of earlier, and whether the MCDF is really resulting in actual benefits in terms of project preparation. Other links:
Christoph Nedopil, et al., "Prospects of the Multilateral Cooperation Center for Development Finance (MCDF) to catalyse infrastructure financing," Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies, 27 April 2022, at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/app5.345.
Certifying China: Seafood, palm oil, and tea standards - with Sun Yixian
Today, we’re looking at the topic of environmental standards for different industries in China, and in particular talking to Prof. Yixian Sun of the University of Bath in the U.K. about the findings of his new book published by MIT Press:
Certifying China: The Rise and Limits of Transnational Sustainability Governance in Emerging Economies
The book explores the potential and limits of transnational eco-certification in moving the world's most populous country toward sustainable consumption and production. Dr Sun identifies the forces that drive companies from three sectors—seafood, palm oil, and tea—to embrace eco-certification. The success of eco-certification, Dr Sun writes, will depend on the extent to which it wins the support of domestic actors in fast-growing emerging economies.
Yixian Sun is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in International Development at the University of Bath, UK. He has a Ph.D. and Master's degree in International Relations / Political Science, from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva. He’s a Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance (ESG) Project and a co-convener of the ESG taskforce on SDGs. He studies transnational governance, environmental politics, and sustainable consumption, and his research seeks to explain the changing role of China in global environmental governance, including sustainability transitions within China as well as sustainability impacts of China's overseas engagement.
For further reading:
Phasing Out Coal Power in China
Today, we’re looking at the issue of phasing out coal power in China, looking at a report issued recently by scholars at the University of Maryland Center for Global Sustainability and the California-China Climate Initiative at UC Berkeley.
Our guest is Dr. Ryna Cui, who is an expert in global coal transition and climate and energy policies in China. Her research focuses on climate change mitigation, and sustainable energy transition, and she is experienced in global and national integrated assessment modeling of China, India and the United States. She is a contributing author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report on the topic of global coal transition. And notably, she joined us on Podcast 84 in November 2019!
The report we're discussing today is: "A Decade of Action: A Strategic Approach to Coal Phase-Down for China."
It discusses a strategic plan to retire China's old or outdated capacity even as the country builds new coal plants. This is in line with government strategies, which posit that new coal should help meet peak loads and ensure stable electricity supplies even as clean energy should supply most incremental energy or electricity overall.
The report has three recommendations: 1. Conduct a plant-level review to identify an early retirement schedule and strategy. 2. Combine this strategy with an analysis of renewable energy, grid, storage and transmission investment to fund these investments and to replace any lost tax revenues. 3. Evaluate the job losses and their composition at the county level, and provide support for job training.
Questions we cover:
How does this study build on the work we discussed two years ago, with the five criteria for prioritizing retirements? How do carbon prices and water come into the calculation? How do you quantify/assess the benefits of the retirements, especially those related to human health? How are the retirements distributed across provinces? Are flexibility retrofits really necessary and economical? Are you assuming that provinces will do a lot more trading of electricity? How do you think the present push for energy security will affect coal plant retirements? What types of jobs are lost when coal plants retire? What types of jobs would they qualify for retraining on? Or do they mostly end up taking buy-outs and just moving to completely different industries? Do coal industry workers generally move in search of new work? What’s new in the latest IPCC chapter you co-authored on energy systems?
For further reading:
Ryna Cui et al., “A Decade of Action: A Strategic Approach to Coal Phase-Down for China,” Center for Global Sustainability, 2022, at https://cgs.umd.edu/research-impact/publications/decade-act-policy-opportunities-china-begin-coal-phase-down-while.
Jiang Lin et al., “Large balancing areas and dispersed renewable investment enhance grid flexibility in a renewable-dominant power system in China,” Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, February 2022, DOI:10.1016/j.isci.2022.103749, at https://eta-publications.lbl.gov/publications/large-balancing-areas-and-dispersed.
IPCC AR6 Chapter 6 (Energy Systems): https://report.ipcc.ch/ar6wg3/pdf/IPCC_AR6_WGIII_FinalDraft_Chapter06.pdf.
Chinese women working in sustainability - with Si Jialing and Zhang Miao
In today's Chinese language Environment China podcast episode, we turn to the topic of women working in environmental and sustainability fields. We join two professionals to talk about their unique and interesting experiences and stories, and explore what's new in their particular fields.
Today's guests are Si Jialing, who works on green finance at the British Embassy, and Zhang Miao, founder of R Cubic, who is sometimes known as the Walking Wastepedia. In terms of career paths, the two represent the extremes of having entered the field by chance, or having cultivated a topic on a straight line from academic study to professional career. We ask what challenges they face in their respective fields, and what advice they have for newcomers to the workplace.
Energy security and clean energy in 2022 - with Liu Yujing and Caroline Zhu
In today's episode of Environment China, we bring you up to date on recent climate and energy developments in China, especially how the renewed quest for energy security affects clean energy and carbon goals. We also address how coal price reforms affect renewables, and the situation of green power trading and corporate renewable energy procurement. We'll also briefly touch on the results of the Two Sessions of the National People's Congress.
Today our guests are Liu Yujing, China Power Manager at RMI China, and Caroline Zhu, Senior Low Carbon Electricity Analyst at S&P Global, and a past colleague of Yujing's at RMI.
Solar supply chain Q&A with Andy Klump
Today we’re speaking to Andy Klump, the CEO and Founder of Clean Energy Associates, a company that provides services in the field of solar PV and battery storage quality assurance, supply chain management, and engineering. He founded the company in 2008 after working for several years at Trina, in an era before China was even a leader in solar manufacturing. Andy is an expert in world solar supply chains who is frequently quoted in publications such as PV Tech / PV Magazine, as well as in mainstream media.
In today’s episode, we cover:
The scale of the largest solar players The upcoming solar and battery technologies and whether China is a tech leader The overall health of the Chinese solar industry The main challenges in the industry right now Whether other countries have the chance to compete with China on solar given its leading position now The relative complexity of he solar supply chain compared to the battery supply chain The extent to which materials supply bottlenecks will continue in both industries How clean energy will evolve—will it still be central plants, or will distributed RE plus storage play more of a role in China than it has so far?
Concise and informative
The podcasts are short, sweet, and to the point.
These podcasts are a great way to keep track of what is going on in China's environmental sector. I'm looking forward to future podcasts in Mandarin!
Glad to have found an easy way to learn about these issues
Learning about things happening on the ground in China can be tough, especially for some of the less mainstream topics like citizen science or sludge-to-power. Instead of just getting a hint of insight from an article, these episodes provide a comprehensive overview of each topic that is touched on. Happy to have a better overall understanding of China's environmental field than ever before- thanks team!
Great to have a podcast covering environmental topics in China.