Published: 09:40, November 22, 2022 | Updated: 09:44, November 22, 2022
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Chinese cities 'leading' on climate action
By ​Edith Mutethya in Nairobi

Electric vehicles are seen at a taxi stand in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, in April. (DONG XUMING / FOR CHINA DAILY)

As cities across the world race to adapt to climate change, C40 — an international organization of cities that are collaborating on actions to confront the crisis — has said that Chinese cities are leading in contributing to coping with climate change.

"Chinese cities are leading on climate mitigation and adaptation in a variety of ways," said Mark Watts, the organization's executive director, who cited the major progress of many cities in China on the electrification of vehicles.

"In Shenzhen, for example, buses and taxis have all been replaced with electric vehicles, and the city has at least 62,000 electric distribution vehicles," he said.

Watts said China has also carried out large-scale, rapid efforts to improve the energy efficiency of buildings.

He said that Qingdao, Shandong province, had renovated 38 million square meters of buildings by the end of last year, benefiting approximately 475,000 households and achieving an annual carbon reduction of about 515,000 metric tons.

"With more than half of the world's construction now taking place in China, the construction sector is an area where Chinese cities can truly lead on emissions reductions," Watts said.

"These experiences are valuable for cities around the world, and especially cities in the Global South, since they tend to be more similar in terms of industrial structure, energy use and development."

Watts said many Chinese cities are also engaged in South-South climate cooperation.

For example, he said, Shenzhen initiated the Shenzhen International Low Carbon City forum as an international platform to engage cities in the Global South in exchanging experiences and receiving training on further climate action.

Meanwhile, Shanghai is also working with international organizations to share best practices on climate adaptation with Global South cities.

Watts said C40 is committed to supporting Chinese cities in becoming climate leaders and sharing experiences on the global stage.

He also said that C40 member cities are leading efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 C compared with preindustrial times, with 62 of them having released climate action plans that are consistent with the targets set forth in the Paris Agreement.

In addition, C40 has initiated 11"accelerators" to catalyze action in the areas of construction, transportation, air quality and renewable energy, Watts said.

"Beijing, Qingdao and Nanjing, for example, are C40 Clean Construction Accelerator pilot cities, working with international peers to reduce embodied emissions in the construction sector and facilitating the achievement of carbon peak and carbon neutrality at the city level and within the construction industry," he said. Embodied emissions are all greenhouse gas emissions that are released as part of making a product or service ready for consumption.

Cities account for more than 70 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions, and 56 percent of the world's population live in cities, with the figure expected to keep increasing, making cities crucial in efforts to fight climate change, he said.

"Cities can break their dependence on fossil fuels, reduce carbon emissions and pollution, improve public health and create good, green jobs that pave the way toward a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive," said Watts.

"It takes political will and collaboration, and C40 will continue to work with cities and share lessons learned with political and business leaders around the world to take meaningful climate action," he added.