Overline: Expert Roundtable
Headline: Mobilising the multiple benefits of renewable energies in China

GIZ-IASS Expert Roundtable, March 2, 2017 in Beijing

The expert roundtable on the topic "Mobilizing the multiple benefits of renewable energies in China: Building new alliances – seizing opportunities – raising climate ambitions" brought together eminent thinkers to address options to spark political momentum for seizing the opportunities linked to renewable energies in China. It explored how China’s transition to the new energy world unravels longtime trade-offs between economic, social and environmental interests and how China’s increasingly leading role in international climate diplomacy translates back to immediate opportunities for domestic development and welfare.

Rationale & Objectives

China’s economy is in the midst of an energy revolution and rapidly increasing the share of renewable sources. Its 13th Five-Year Plan prepares the political ground to seize the social and economic opportunities presented by renewable energy and to mitigate the harmful impacts of the fossil energy world.

China suffers from particularly strong air pollution, a great deal of which can be attributed to the use of fossil fuels in thermal power plants, industry and transport. Besides 1.6 million premature deaths annually and economic damage that amounts to roughly 10% of China’s GDP, air pollution increasingly jeopardizes Chinese efforts to attract international and national talent. As main contributor to global climate change, fossil energy generation also induces unprecedented economic and social risks for generations to come.

On a positive note, renewable energies enjoy a strong and increasing popularity in China and in global markets for their multiple social and economic benefits, such as additional employment creation and industry development, the reduction of fossil fuel imports, local value creation, and rural development through distributed and affordable power generation. Although China has seen substantial investments in renewables, their effective deployment and the transition from the old to the new energy world are still facing severe constraints. Evidence suggests that for China there are even greater economic, social and environmental benefits linked to renewable energies which remain to be realized.

Guiding questions

  1. Identifying key benefits of renewable energies in China: what do we know, what do we need to know?
  2. How to continue building the enabling environment to seize the opportunities of the new energy world in China?
  3. How can public sector, research, international cooperation and the private sector collaborate to mobilize the multiple benefits of renewable energies in China?
  4. How can the multiple benefits of renewable energies be used more effectively to convince decision-makers to take action for energy sector decarbonization?

Issues to be explored

  • Social and economic benefits of renewables as drivers of energy transitions
  • 13th FYP as window of opportunity: Creating the enabling environment for seizing the social and economic opportunities
  • From coal to renewables: maximizing the winners of the energy transition
  • China Renewable Energy Outlook: addressing social, economic and environmental benefits
  • Existing barriers to seizing co-benefits and possible new alliances for renewable energy implementation
  • Numbers count: Specific needs for co-benefits assessments in view of an accelerated energy transition in China