From a Chance Encounter to Concrete Results: ISC Supports Xiaolan Town in Developing a Low Carbon Future
Low carbon is the future of social and economic development. The government is eager to cooperate with international organizations such as ISC to help our society truly realize sustainable development and introduce advanced international experience and technology.
--Mayor of Xiaolan Town: Liang Rongjia
From a Chance Encounter to Concrete Results: ISC Supports Xiaolan Town to Develop a Low Carbon Future
In the summer of 2010, Ah Qing and Ah Yan from Xiaolan Town, Zhongshan City in Guangdong Province participated in a training course offered by ISC on EHS (Environment, Health, and Safety). These two young women were so interested in environmental protection and low carbon development they drove long distances and paid out of their own pocket to attend the course.
The training sparked great enthusiasm and excitement. On their way home, Ah Qing and Ah Yan started to envision a prosperous and beautiful low carbon future for their hometown. Unbeknownst to them, this chance encounter with ISC was a seed which would later blossom into a major milestone in China's pursuit of cleaner, more sustainable, low carbon development.
Xiaolan ranks second among over 1,000 towns in Guangdong in terms of economic output, and leads all of China in the production of diverse items ranging from microchips to undergarments. Over the past decade, Xiaolan has engaged in a series of development planning exercises and activities designed to create a more livable, sustainable plan for their city. Despite their enthusiasm and passion, however, Xiaolan struggled to realize significant gains. When Ah Qing and Ah Yan returned to Xiaolan, they shared their experience with others, including government officials. They noted that ISC is an international non-profit organization dedicated to helping communities tackle low carbon development, emissions reduction, energy conservation, environmental protection and community development. ISC's seemed like an ideal organization to help the Xiaolan government work on developing a low carbon future. With encouragement from their friends and local leaders, Ah Qing and Ah Yan reached out to ISC for assistance.
In early 2011, ISC and Xiaolan Town jointly conducted a kick-off conference on low carbon innovation and development. The conference gathered experts on low carbon development with local residence from Xiaolan to discuss several key tasks necessary to push forward low carbon development. These key tasks included new approaches to transportation, construction, education, and industrial conservation. The conference built a platform for all community members to take advantage of local resources, and participate in developing plans for pursuing a low carbon, sustainable Xiaolan.
ISC's first suggestion was that Xiaolan determine its current emissions before moving forward with specific projects. In other words, Xiaolan should first figure out exactly where its greenhouse gas emissions were coming from, and then develop a scientific and systematic plan to reduce those emissions in the medium to long term. A comprehensive greenhouse gas emissions inventory of Xiaolan would provide complete, accurate, and specific information that government officials could use ot make truly informed decisions. In May 2011, the US-China Partnership for Climate Action (PCA), a USAID-funded public-private partnership implemented by ISC, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Xiaolan Government to launch the "Low Carbon Xiaolan Initiative." The initiative's aim is to strengthen Xiaolan's capacity to measure and document its greenhouse gas emissions, and then implement specific and targeted emission reduction measures. A greenhouse gas emissions investigation committee, led by the Town Mayor as well as the heads of various governmental departments, was set up to complete this task.
Meanwhile, Ah Qing and Ah Yan continued to become more involved in and dedicated to this effort, and took on a more and more important role as local leaders. The same month that the MOU with Xioalan was signed and the new initiative launched, ISC helped Ah Qing and Ah Yang found a new local NGO, the Xiaolan Low Carbon Development Promotion Center (XLCDPC). The XLCDPC would serve as a hub of low carbon, sustainable development activity in Xiaolan, and serve as a local repository for best practices and lessons learned for the greenhouse gas emissions inventory. With support from ISC, the XLCDPC has since coordinated between various government agencies and other organizations providing support to the Initiative including ISC, WRI, and the Guangzhou Academy of Energy Testing and Inspection.
Despite Xiaolan's enthusiasm and the strong technical capacity of its partners, the project faced significant initial challenges. There was no precedent for completing a comprehensive city greenhouse gas inventory in China. Neither Xiaolan nor the project partners were even sure what kind of data existed to form the basis of such an inventory. They began with a systematic review of all data available from the local Statistics Bureau. Chinese and international experts were invited to review the data and offer comments. Step by step, the team laid out the boundaries and scope of the effort according to internationally accepted greenhouse gas accounting standards, which would ensure the Xiaolan inventory could be compared and contrasted to other such efforts around the globe. The partners outlined what existing data they could use, and what new data would need to be collected - then they set out to gather it.
Despite strong support from a range of government agencies, however, the team encountered many road blocks. For example, both residents and local businesses didn't understand the project and were skeptical of its value. They wondered if the project would cost them money, cause inconveniences, reveal information or habits they would prefer to keep private, or lead to burdensome new laws or regulations. This made data collection - the foundation of the whole initiative - a huge challenge.
Fortunately, the Xiaolan Government was truly committed to the task, and the XLCDPC was there to help. Using local television, the government issued public service announcements about the purpose of the project. The government also issued continuous updates on progress in order to help residents and local businesses understand the value and meaning of the data collection efforts. At the same time, the XLCDPC invited businesses and community leaders to public question and answer sessions. These discussions enabled participants to understand the long-term development goals for Xiaolan, and the value of a town-wide greenhouse gas inventory. Key organizations such as the local water and electricity supply departments were also engaged to provide data on usage for all businesses on an annual basis.
ISC's role throughout was simply to facilitate and coordinate - to bring together the various governmental departments and community stakeholders, but more importantly, to build the capacity of the XLCDPC to do this same work going forward. ISC helped the XLCDPC understand how to solve problems, engage a variety of key stakeholders, and work effectively with the local government to implement low carbon projects. Through these experiences, the center's capacity has grown tremendously through learning and doing.
Due to all of these efforts, over 700 questionnaires were distributed to stakeholders representing all major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the city. The team achieved an 85% response rate - an almost unprecedented success in data collection efforts of this kind in China. The questionnaire included questions related to every aspect of the economic and daily life of Xiaolan residents and businesses. The data used to calculate emissions will also be updated annually going forward, in order help Xiaolan track its emissions reduction progress. More importantly, the entire process of data collection, processing, and documentation was conducted and managed by the government and residents of Xiaolan Town. ISC and other organizations only worked to provided support on methods, tools, and data analysis.
The Report on Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Xiaolan, Zhongshan City was completed in the spring of 2012, the first town-level greenhouse gas emissions inventory in China based on international standards. Following the data and analysis in the report, the Xiaolan Government next plans to implement a series of initiatives in the Xiaolan Low Carbon Plan and work to accelerate its low carbon future. The government plans to vigorously promote low carbon development and urban construction in Xiaolan over the next three to five years, in order to transform Xiaolan into a low carbon model for all of China to see.
Through the low carbon Xiaolan project, ISC, as an international NGO, provided all the critical resources that the local town lacked and built a platform to gather international resources, experts and technologies for building of a low carbon Xiaolan. ISC also worked to help popularized and strengthened the awareness of the importance of low carbon development among Xiaolan's 300,000 residents through a series of promotion and training programs. The awareness-raising training laid an excellent foundation for the future development of Xiaolan. More importantly, ISC assisted in establishing a local NGO, the Xiaolan Low Carbon Development Promotion Center. Ah Qing and Ah Yan, two young passionate women have grown tremendous-from part-time amateurs to full-time NGO professionals. Having grown and learned so much from working with ISC, the XLCDPC is now a thriving young NGO. The NGO is now working to supplement the deficiencies of the local government and to promote the construction of a low carbon Xiaolan. Next, the center plan to launch a series of low carbon projects such as the Low Carbon Middle School, Promoting the Utilization of Natural Gas and a series of Energy Performance Contracting projects. "My encounter with ISC has built my career and made a big change in my life and to Xiaolan. Xiaolan will become more charming thanks to the low carbon town project," said Ah Qing.
- Widening the horizon of Energy Performance Contracting in China
- Embrace Sustainability, and Be a Smarter Manufacturer
- ISC Released the First Guide for the Development of Low Carbon Zones in China
- Improving Working Skill, Perfecting EHS Procedure--EHS Academy Business Success Story (2)
- From a Serendipitous Encounter to Concrete Results: ISC Supports Xiaolan Town in Developing a Low Carbon Future
- A Model Approach for Improving Quality of Life without Increasing Carbon Emissions
- The Man Who Plants Hope: How cultivating champions leads to replication and scale up of successful practices
- A Small Step Makes Difference
- Start with Children for the Education Sustainable Development
- Environment, our People: Health & Safety, our suppliers/Features
The EHS Academy: Where Local Improvement Drives Global Collaboration
- Improving Working Skill, Perfecting EHS Procedure--EHS Academy Business Case Sharing
- Young and Old Community Members in China Inspire Local Action to Save Energy
- Food: A Starting Point to Greener Lifestyle
- Sharing Experience with Hong Kong Counterparts
- EPA Administrator Jackson Praise ISC China Program
- Green Roofing Construction Sample Completed at Zhangge, Shenzhen
- ISC first international Climate Leadership Academies help Chinese officials develop strategies for low carbon city planning
- The Next Generation Takes on Climate Change
- Communities in U.S., China and Japan Share Best Practices in Energy Efficiency
- Rebuilding After the Sichuan Earthquake
- The Environment, Health and Safety Academy: Training of Trainers
- Students and Citizens Complete Community Energy Profile
- U.S. and China Educators Visit Japan to Share Best Practices of Environmental Education