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Pioneering Discussion on Zero Carbon Future: "Vision 2050 - Accelerating Carbon Neutrality" Yangtze River Delta International Forum concluded successfully

On June 10, 2021, the "Vision 2050 - Accelerating Carbon Neutrality" Yangtze River Delta International Forum, organized by the World Resources Institute (WRI), was successfully held in Shanghai. More than 300 representatives from governments, enterprises, academic institutions, international organizations and media from the Yangtze River Delta region and Nordic countries participated in the forum, which actively promoted mutual exchanges and learning between Nordic countries and provinces and cities in the Yangtze River Delta region, shared their experiences and excellent cases in green economy development, and provided valuable suggestions for the Yangtze River Delta region to grasp the opportunities of low-carbon and high-quality development in the process of integrated development. The Consulate General of the Kingdom of Denmark in Shanghai, the Consulate General of Finland in Shanghai, the Embassy of Iceland in China, the Consulate General of Norway in Shanghai, the Consulate General of Sweden in Shanghai and the Shanghai Economic Information Center all supported the forum.

Dr. Fang Li, Chief Representative of the World Resources Institute Beijing Representative Office, hosted the forum. She said in her opening speech that Yangtze River Delta has a pivotal role in China's modernization and reform and opening-up process, and is the engine of China's economic development and a pioneer in building China's low-carbon and high-quality development in the new era, while the Nordic countries have many attempts and experiences in promoting socially equitable transformation with environmental technology and policy and institutional innovation, and are the pioneers of low-carbon development transformation in Europe. This forum provides an important platform for China-Europe pioneers to cooperate and build a new mechanism of global governance in the context of carbon neutral and digital development.

China's 14th Five-Year Plan has already pointed out that China will further implement major regional strategies and promote inter-regional integration and complementarity. Therefore, it is crucial to promote the optimal allocation of factors, build a platform for sharing resources, promote the flow of scientific and technological talents, cultivate new dynamics of innovation, and take the lead in achieving low-carbon and green development in the process. At the first plenary meeting of the Leading Group for Carbon Neutral Work of Carbon Summit just held at the end of May, Zheng Han, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Vice Premier of the State Council, also stressed the need to closely follow the target decomposition tasks, strengthen top-level design, guide and urge localities and key areas, industries and enterprises to scientifically set targets and formulate action plans. At the same time, we should strengthen international exchanges and cooperation, seek the maximum convention of global climate governance, and join hands with the international community to protect the Earth.

Mr. Pasi Hellman, Consul General of Finland in Shanghai, also said in the speech session that guided by the Nordic Declaration on Carbon Neutrality in January 2019, the Nordic countries continue to deepen their cooperation with global partners to facilitate the transition to climate neutrality by mid-century by supporting policy development, exploring multi-channel funding for climate action and providing innovative solutions from Nordic companies to create new opportunities for jobs and economic development. "While we need to advance economic recovery and development, we also need to balance this with attention to the transition to low carbon. To achieve this, we have to achieve global collaboration, for example, from the technology side, which is not a zero-sum game. The issue is very complex and no one country can solve it independently." Mr. Pasi Hellman believes that climate change should be an area where regionalization and large-scale cooperation can be achieved, and he also hopes to promote more regional or even global dialogue in the future.

Ms. Helen-Mountford, Vice President of the World Resources Institute, joined the opening of the forum on line. In her speech, she noted that "the more we work together, the more we can learn from each other's experiences and share technologies and other solutions to address challenges together, so that we can get better results." She mentioned that now that the Nordic countries, the EU and China have made commitments to carbon neutrality, it is time to set further routes and medium-term targets and take active action. The Yangtze River Delta region is leading the way in reaching peak carbon and achieving carbon neutrality, as well as boosting employment and economic and social benefits. The World Resources Institute study shows that by 2050, a green economy scenario would help governments in the Yangtze River Delta region increase their revenues sixfold from 2020 to $38 trillion. In addition, the green economy scenario will create an average of nearly 3.8 million more jobs per year in the Yangtze River Delta region from 2025 onwards, creating a cleaner and more sustainable economy.

The forum consisted of two main parts: "From Green Innovation to Green Business" and "Regional Coordination to Lead Deep Decarbonization", the former focusing on corporate actions and the latter on policy improvements, with a two-pronged approach, exploring multi-dimensional ways to accelerate decarbonization.

In the morning session, Kevin Moss, Global Director of the Center for Sustainable Business at the World Resources Institute, introduced the scientific pathway for companies to achieve carbon neutrality, calling on more companies to face up to the impact of their business activities on climate change and nature, set science-based emission reduction targets, and join the Science Based Target Initiative (SBTi) and the Science Based Target Network (SBTN). He said that nearly 1,500 companies have joined SBTi, and 50 percent of them have already set their own science-based targets, which have been verified. Among them, 30 Chinese companies have made similar commitments, which shows that the trend is gaining momentum in China. He also mentioned the importance of "government recognition": "We think that the government should be actively involved, so that it will also give more confidence to the companies and the industry."

Representatives from the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, Shanghai Foreign Investment Promotion Center, Economist Entrepreneur Network, Taurang, JinkoSolar, Danfoss, KDDI, Wärtsilä, Ryan, Polar Green Energy and other organizations and companies also discussed in the morning roundtable session how to accelerate the low-carbon transition by scaling up renewable energy and leveraging big data. Min Yuan, director of the China Energy Program at the World Resources Institute, analyzed the issue of green power procurement, which is of concern to many enterprises, from three directions in the "Expanding Renewable Energy" panel discussion. She pointed out that the current demand for green energy by power companies is rising rapidly, and even the global spread of the COVID-19 has not been able to stop this process. To date, more than 300 companies have joined the RE100 initiative with the goal of using 100% renewable energy. The annual electricity consumption of these companies is close to 300 billion kilowatt hours, twice as much as Shanghai's entire society will use in 2020, and the number of companies joining continues to grow. Not only that, but these companies that have made the commitment have also made corresponding demands on their supply chains, so this trend will continue to accelerate. But at the same time, we also need to see the difficulties that green power procurement is currently encountering in China, such as the limited access to renewable energy in the Chinese market and the lack of self-evaluation methods.

In the afternoon policy analysis session, Jan Wahlberg, Climate Change Ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Tomas Christensen, Climate Ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities of Denmark, Stefán Skjaldarson, Climate Change Ambassador and Special Envoy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iceland, Hongmei Wu, Vice President of Zhejiang Development Planning Institute, Xudong Jiang, Vice President of Anhui Economic Research Institute, Pehong Wang, Vice President of Yangtze River Delta Carbon Neutral Strategic Development Institute of Southeast University, and many other government and academic representatives from Northern Europe and Yangtze River Delta region discussed how to strengthen regional cooperation and promote zero-carbon industry development through optimized policies. Please stay tuned as we will publish a series of articles from the experts afterwards!

Mattias Frumerie, Director General of the Swedish Ministry of Environment and Head of the UNFCCC Delegation, said in his concluding speech that the multi-dimensional and multi-faceted cooperation between the Yangtze River Delta region and the Nordic countries is actively contributing to the global carbon reduction process. He also emphasized the importance of "standardization" and "transformation of thinking". Matthias said, " From Sweden's perspective, our approach to cooperation with other countries and global climate action is based on three elements: regulatory frameworks, finance and innovative technologies, and we hope that these elements will also complement each other. For COP26 in November, our colleagues at UNESCO are now actively preparing to work together to promote policy transparency, innovation in market mechanisms, financial and investment development, and individual country autonomous contribution targets. We are pleased to see that China is actively participating in the efforts to reduce emissions and protect the global climate. Shanghai and also East China, as the leading region in China, have been at the forefront of China and we hope to see more cooperation in the future."

Against the background of China's new carbon peak target and carbon neutral vision, the WRI Climate and Energy Project reaches out to localities and focuses on the Yangtze River Delta to explore the key pathways for key provinces and cities to take the lead in achieving peak carbon emissions and net zero emissions in the medium and long term, in order to contribute to the effective achievement of national targets. The project combines the national strategy of regional economic integration to promote high-quality regional economic development while achieving low-carbon transformation. The project will support the three provinces and one city in the Yangtze River Delta to identify key emission reduction areas and strategies, and explore topics such as economic structure transformation and upgrading, industrial policy optimization and synergy, as well as market mechanism and institutional planning and construction in the process of zero carbon development. The project will ultimately provide policy recommendations for local peaking action plans, the 14th Five-Year Plan and medium- and long-term climate strategies, identify key emission reduction actions and demonstration pilot projects, and carry out related capacity building activities to promote high-quality zero-carbon development in China's economy.

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