Solutions to carbon reduction are within China's reach

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This aritcle is cross-posted from China Daily. Read the original article here.

• Strengthen the underlying legal infrastructure: Building-code standards that reflect the latest technological innovations, are updated on a consistent and regular schedule, and vigorously enforced could promote efficiencies of up to 30 percent.

• Increase the role of market forces: Reform of resource pricing in the energy sector will ensure more efficient supply and demand of energy.

• Use data more effectively: Tracking energy use would allow governments, building owners, utility companies and users to regulate their behavior in a more cost-effective manner.

• Promote incentives to change behavior: Incentive programs, such as rebates, and awareness campaigns can encourage more widespread use of energy-efficient appliances and Three Star building designates.

• Raise awareness of —and access to—energy efficient building materials and methods: Training in the application of existing technologies for architects, developers, and contractors will ensure better use. And creating awareness among the purchasers of new homes and apartments on the benefits of green buildings—cost savings, better resale values, even a healthier lifestyle—will drive demand for these energy-efficient technologies.

• Actively enforce building codes and regulations: Vigorous enforcement through inspections, combined with raising awareness, will help ensure greater compliance with China’s ambitious energy efficiency agenda.

The solutions to carbon reduction are within China’s reach. And there is both an environmental and political urgency for China to advance in its “war against pollution,” as Premier Li Keqiang calls it. Yes, there are systemic challenges to overcome—lack of capital, legal infrastructure, and too few enforcement officials, to name a few. As with any battle, however, success comes down to effective deployment of tools in the arsenal, a smart strategy, and political will. President Xi government has demonstrated it has the initial political will to take action seen in its intentions to reform the energy sector and a groundbreaking air quality initiative in the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin region. The Paulson Institute-CCIEE recommendations offer a set of quick wins while laying the groundwork for longer term success.

We all have a stake in supporting and emulating China’s new energy efficiency policies. Cleaner air in China and in the US means progress toward a sustainable future for all.

Deborah Lehr is a Senior Fellow at the Paulson Institute and Chairman of the Antiquities Coalition.

Leigh Wedell is the Chief Sustainability Officer of the Paulson Institute.

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