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ISC Released the First Guide for the Development of Low Carbon Zones in China

ISC Released the First Guide for the Development of Low Carbon Zones in China

-- "Guide for Low Carbon Industrial Development Zones & User Manual"


Recently, the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) released the "Guide for Low Carbon Industrial Development Zones" which is the first guidebook of its kind in China. The guide, developed by ISC in light of the current status of low carbon industrial development zones (IDZs) in China, is a set of practical quantitative assessment procedures and technical instructions to establish and evaluate low carbon IDZs. The goal of the guide is to provide technological support and useful, informative case studies to guide low carbon IDZs throughout China.

Environmental and climate change are among the most urgent problems facing humanity in the 21st century. The most meaningful steps we can take to solve these issues are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pursue low carbon production and lifestyles. In 2009, China's State Council established its greenhouse gas reduction target: CO2 emissions per GDP unit in 2020 should be 40-45% lower than in 2005. This target is also included in the constraint indexes of the State Council's medium- and long-term development plans. In 2010, the National Development and Reform Commission carried out its "National Pilot Project for Low Carbon Provinces, Autonomous Regions and Cities" in five provinces and eight cities.

As areas with dense populations and high concentrations of production activity, cities account for 90% of the total emissions of all of society. In many cities, industrial emissions make up 60% of total emissions. As one of the basic components of our cities, IDZs are made up of a large number of industrial and commercial enterprises.

There are many low carbon-related IDZs in China, and the management authorities of these zones have shown a strong will to develop, particularly since August 10th, 2010 when the National Development and Reform Commission launched the low carbon pilot project for provinces and cities. However, there is no recognized definition of low carbon IDZ, and no quantifiable evaluation indexes or uniform regulatory standards have been established. To this day, everyone has their own understanding of what a "low carbon IDZ" entails.

The development and construction of low carbon IDZs not only requires awareness of zone management but also a more scientific, fine-tuned and quantifiable form of management. Guided by specific and accurate data, a shift from quantitative change to qualitative change will be realized over time. A comprehensive, logical and quantifiable guide will not only help the zones develop and expand their low carbon technologies, but it will also help the zones' management authorities enhance management technologies and tools as well as change their overall mindset - measuring with indexes and speaking with data.

Since its entry into China in 2007, ISC has been cooperating with academics, technical experts, government officials and other project stakeholders to actively carry out low carbon urban construction projects and promote recognized best practices related to sustainable development and climate change mitigation and adaptation. According to Pan Tao, ISC's urban program manager, the concept of a "low carbon city" is difficult to promote and has relatively low operability due to its large dimension and scale. As the main component of urban economic development, industrial zones have great potential to develop low carbon practices and infrastructure. Low carbon development in industrial zones has a large range of positive impacts, including significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, ISC organized more than 20 domestic and foreign professionals from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, Guangdong Provincial Academy of Building Research, Suzhou Energy Conservation Center, Construction Project Consulting Company, etc., and collaborated for two years to complete China's first "Guide for Low Carbon Industrial Development Zones" (hereinafter referred to as "Guide").

ISC believes that a low carbon IDZ should not only be low carbon in terms of amount of greenhouse gas emissions and emission intensity, but should also continue to meet the zone's needs in terms of social and economic outputs. The construction of low carbon IDZs is a systematic project, including zone planning and construction, industrial structure configuration, personnel management, green building and other aspects. It involves energy use and greenhouse gas management, recycling economy and environmental protection, zone management and protection mechanisms, and plan layout and land use. Among them, energy use and greenhouse gas management are the core elements of low carbon zone development and overall zone architecture. Moreover, greenhouse gas monitoring and accounting will directly affect the progress of the zones' low carbon development and various related practices.

All the indexes and technologies in the Guide are based on existing scientific and technological standards. They are widely applicable and don't require advanced technological inputs. All industrial zones and highly industrialized towns in need of low carbon development and energy conservation can use this guide. It is readable and easy to understand, as well as practical and easy to implement. Users can assess the low-carbon development level of their own zones or regions according to the evaluation index system in the Guide. A total score of 60 points within the evaluation index system means that the basic low carbon requirements have been met and the zone has a potential for low carbon development; 70-85 points means most low carbon development has been met and the zone has significant potential for further low carbon development; and a score of over 85 points represents an excellent low carbon demonstration zone which can serve as a case study and model for developing low carbon solutions. Regional differences are also taken into account in the rating system - the scores in the assessment system are horizontally comparable. The Guide also includes a "User Manual: Low Carbon Industrial Development Zones" which includes a variety of low carbon case studies for reference.

During the preparation of the Guide, ISC invited Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area, Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau, Shanghai Energy Efficiency Center and other executive agencies and departments to give suggestions and advice from the viewpoint of practitioners. They all agreed that the Guide was informative, comprehensive, practical, easy to understand and operate, and served as a very timely and valuable resource for low carbon zones still in the initial stage of development. ISC hopes to help industrial zones realize substantive change in low carbon development through the Guide.

ISC will organize trainings on methodologies and solutions to help users better understand how to use the Guide to, pursue low carbon development. Meanwhile, ISC will organize a team of experts to promote the Guide and research and assess current industrial zones' levels of low carbon development. Based on these assessment results, the team of experts will provide recommendations on low-carbon development strategy for the industrial zones investigated and publish case studies on a regular basis. Both the Guide and the User Manual will also be regularly updated and revised according to usage.

For the full version of "Guide for Low Carbon Industrial Development Zones & User Manual", please contact ychen@iscchina.org