“It’s not the case that the Chinese government has made any decision. I’m not a government official and I don’t represent the government.” — Professor Jiankun He, director of the Low Carbon Economy Lab of Tsinghua Universtiy and deputy director of the National Expert Committee on Climate Change, 3 June 2014
h/t to The GWPF
China Denies U-Turn On CO2 Emissions
[Yesterday] morning, a Chinese climate adviser announced that the country was going to limit its carbon dioxide emissions. Now he has backed down and says: “That was just my personal opinion. What I have said does not represent the view of the Chinese government.”
Was this really just a gaffe? Earlier in the day, He Jiankun, a Chinese climate adviser announced that the People’s Republic of China would cap its carbon emissions. That was a powerful statement, at least it was perceived as such – not least because the American president also announced that he was more determined than ever to mobilise against carbon dioxide emissions.
But China is already backing down. “What I have said today was my personal opinion,” He told the Reuters news agency in Beijing. His statements from the morning session were intended only for “academic studies”. “What I have said does not represent the view of the Chinese government or of any organisation,” he clarified .
At a [green energy] conference He had earlier said the world’s largest CO2 producer would, for the first time, cap its greenhouse gas emissions to a specified upper limit. This, he claimed, would be firmly anchored in China’s upcoming five-year plan that will come into force in 2016. Coming soon after the announcement of new measures by the U.S. government the day before, this announcement had raised hopes of an international breakthrough in the fight against global climate change. What now?
Reality Check: How A Chinese Renewable Energy Boffin Fooled The World’s Green Media
Having covered China’s stance on global warming since 1988, I’ve gotten attuned to the need to tread carefully when something is said that feels like a shift in the official position of this greenhouse gas giant.
The ancient Chinese mask-changing dance that I saw here Tuesday night (at a dinner for participants in a meeting on science and sustainable development) came to mind in considering the unraveling of news a few hours earlier of an official Chinese plan for a firm cap on emissions of carbon dioxide, hard on the heels of President Obama’s proposed carbon pollution rules for existing American power plants.
Here’s how things played out. An adviser to the Chinese government on climate change was quoted by Reuters as saying the following at a Beijing climate-policy conference on Tuesday:
“The government will use two ways to control CO2 emissions in the next five-year plan, by intensity and an absolute cap.”
The comment came from He Jiankun, a professor at Tsinghua and deputy director of China’s Expert Committee on Climate Change, speaking at an international forum on market mechanisms for low-carbon development sponsored by Harvard University and Tsinghua University.
The story quickly pivoted to how significant this would be given the context of President Obama’s move and informal climate talks starting on Wednesday in Bonn, Germany, aimed at setting the stage for fresh climate treaty work later this year at the United Nations and in Lima, Peru.
The Guardian quickly followed Reuters with “China pledges to limit carbon emissions for first time,” a piece canvassing climate campaigners but offering no reinforcing input from the Chinese government.
I consulted with The Times’s Beijng bureau. Christopher Buckley, a reporter who in 2011 had covered China’s emissions plans while with Reuters, spoke with He Jiankun, who told him repeatedly that he did not in any way speak for the government, or the full expert climate committee.
Here’s Buckley’s translation:
“It’s not the case that the Chinese government has made any decision. This is a suggestion from experts, because now they are exploring how emissions can be controlled in the 13th Five Year Plan…. This is a view of experts; that’s not saying it’s the government’s. I’m not a government official and I don’t represent the government.”
A Reuters reporter told me tonight that a correction was being posted, but not before other newspapers – including USA Today with a piece on China’s “emissions pledge” – built on the report.
Professor Jiankun He is the professor and the director of Low Carbon Economy Lab of Tsinghua Universtiy, and the deputy director of National Expert Committee on Climate Change. He is also the former Executive Vice President of the University of Tsinghua and former Dean of the School of Economics and Management.
Professor He is a leading professor in the field of energy economics and climate policy. He has been engaged in research on energy system analysis and modeling, counter global climate change strategy, resource management and sustainable development for many years. He has been principal investigators of many national key science and technology projects and international collaborative research projects.
Professor He has been awarded the National Award for Science and Technology progress, the Awards for Science and Technology Progress of the Ministry of Education of China for three times, and the Awards for Science and Technology Progress at the provincial or ministry level for five times.