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Boao's approach to 'zero carbon': A demonstration and an obligation

First Voice


Editor's note: What is the recipe for success in Asia in terms of realizing green transition? What's China doing in this regard? Follow our reporter to the Boao Forum for Asia this year, where discussions around sustainable development are a focus point on the agenda, and where the near-zero carbon demonstration zone showcases how China is leveraging its advantages and employing innovative means to create a greener future.

The discussion around sustainable development and green transition is all the rage in today's China. This year's Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) seems to be another testament to this observation.

"We should first invest in renewable energy and establish a new resource before abandoning the old one," said Zhou Xiaochuan, vice-chairman of BFA Board.

Liu Zhenya, founding chairman of Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization, also shared his thoughts, saying that there's great pressure to ensure power supply. Coupled with natural disasters, especially climate disasters, we face a huge challenge.

Among the 40+ panel discussions held here at Boao in south China's Hainan, at least eight have key words such as "zero-carbon" and "climate action" in their themes. As a first-timer at the forum, I am a little amazed by the particular focus on this one topic. And as I took a walk around the forum venue, the gorgeous seaside scene of coconut palm trees swaying gently in the breeze and the green products and public awareness signboards that are found everywhere indicate that this may be the perfect place to have an environment-centered discussion.

I became fully convinced of this when I saw the near-zero carbon demonstration zone at the venue, which began trial operation in March. It guarantees zero-carbon operations through 18 projects, including landscaping, green building and eco-friendly transportation, by utilizing local wind, light and heat resources. It is where renewable energy meets high functional efficiency, presenting a long-term environmental solution based on innovation

Zou Ji, the CEO and president of Energy Foundation China, said at a panel discussion of Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024 that "it is essential to have a clearer understanding of the entire market structure. I think, especially in the context of energy transition, I attach great importance to technological innovation and technological research and development."

Nishant Bhardwaj, the deputy director of the Global Green Growth Institute said that "technologies are emerging ... with the artificial intelligence systems coming in and then digitization of networks and bringing in a smartness in the whole operations, for the greater availability and also how to maximize the grid for use of renewable energy."

The island province of Hainan has been leveraging its intrinsic advantage in ecologically sustainable development to work continuously for its future.

Feng Fei, Secretary of the Hainan Provincial Party Committee, said in an interview with CGTN that "Hainan's natural beauty isn't just a local treasure; it is shared by all Chinese and people around the world. Preserving the lush mountains and rivers, blue seas and skies of Hainan is crucial for us all."

In 2019, the Chinese government unveiled a plan to build a national ecological civilization pilot zone in Hainan, aimed at reaching a world-leading level in terms of environmental quality.

Since then, significant progress has been made: The proportion of days with excellent or good air quality in the province last year reached 99.5 percent, the highest it has ever been. The PM2.5 concentration dropped by 25 percent compared to 2019.

The government has also put forward a comprehensive reform program for the island's energy sector. The goal is to turn Hainan into a "green energy island" by 2035.

The demonstration zone embodies China's vision of peaking carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and becoming carbon neutral by 2060. For China, the second largest economy in the world, the vitality of its economy depends upon sufficient energy resources. Does this transition make sense economically?

The answer is yes. Official data showed that China-made photovoltaic (PV) modules, wind turbines, gearboxes and other key components have continued to dominate the global market, accounting for 70 percent of the world's total market share in 2022. According to Liu Zhenmin, senior advisor to the Chinese delegation to COP28, the cost of global wind power has been reduced by 80 percent and the cost of PV power generation has been reduced by 90 percent, thanks to China's vigorous development of renewable energy. It is a major contributing force to realizing green transformation with affordable clean energy.

According to Zhou Xiaochuan, from an economic standpoint, relative price has always been important. "We must examine what we ultimately offer to the market, especially to users: Is coal power more expensive, or is new energy more expensive? We must widen the price gap and offer cheaper new energy. This is the only way to guide demand and optimize resource allocation."

Vice President of China General Nuclear Power Group Shi Bing noted that "firstly, we need to further strengthen international cooperation. For example, we have domestic advantages in technology, funding, and experience. How can we enhance international cooperation and assist other countries in developing clean energy? Secondly, we need to establish the interconnection of electricity so that everyone can share clean energy on a larger scale." 

China is not only treading steadily on the path to achieve its own carbon neutrality goal; it is also helping other countries adapt to energy transition more easily.

Bhardwaj said that "on the one hand, Asia is still developing and it has not reached its peak in terms of its emissions. But at the same time, it is the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, but also houses the maximum number of vulnerable people in the world. South-South Cooperation becomes very important. That would actually be mutually beneficial for both countries that have the technology and finance and the countries that need technology and finance. And that would be the recipe for success in Asia."

A report titled "Striding Towards Zero-Carbon Electricity Era and Bolstering Green Development in Asia" was released at the Boao Forum, in which the word "cooperation" appeared 164 times. Indeed, it is key for all stakeholders to work hand in hand in catalyzing the continent's energy transition.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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