35.5 From Cleaner Production to Carbon Management: Lessons from the implementation of cleaner production in China and its implications on the promotion of carbon management

Stephen Tsang , Kadoorie Institute, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Full Papers
  • JAOCC_FullPaper_for submission.pdf (243.6 kB)
  • Cleaner Production (CP) is defined by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as "the continuous application of an integrated preventive environmental strategy to processes and products to reduce risks to humans and the environment." Since 1994, UNEP in cooperation with United Nations Industry Development Organization (UNIDO), started to promote the application of CP by enterprises in developing and transition countries by setting up National Cleaner Production Centers (NCPCs) and National Cleaner Production Programmes (NCPPs). The China National Cleaner Production Centre (CNCPC) under the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) was established in December 1994 with an aim to promote China's CP research and consultation. In 1995, CNCPC launched the "Ten, One Hundred, One Thousand, Ten Thousand" programme which aimed to promote CP in 10 heavily polluting industrial sectors in 100 cities throughout China. The target is to have CP in place in 1000 enterprises and train 10000 people in CP concepts and methods. Since then, the Chinese government has seriously considered a cleaner production law, which signified its intention to shift way from traditional reliance on end-of-pipe solution as the principle environmental protection strategy. The Cleaner Production Law was later passed in the National People's Congress and came to effective in 2003.


    By examining currently available literatures, this paper gives a brief overview of the Chinese national CP strategy, listing its ongoing efforts to promote CP, including partnership with international development assistance organizations to conduct demonstration projects and training courses, mandating proposed industrial development projects to include CP audits in the environmental impacts statements, establishment of a national environmental labelling program. CP in China has further been promoted by implementation of international treaty such as Montreal Protocol and supply chain pressure in international trade. Lessons on successes and failures of all these initiatives are drawn and factors that motivate or deter business from CP are identified.


    Climate Change is currently the most critical global environmental issue. Governments have continuously been called to act before it is too late. As China is set to become the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the very near future, China are under international pressure to control its greenhouse gas emissions, although at present, it is not required by Kyoto Protocol to reduce its emissions. Similar to CP, climate change initiatives in China is mainly a result of the central government's adoption and promotion. To demonstrate its commitment to climate change, china's Premier, Wen Jiabao, heads himself a task force to deal with energy efficiency and greenhouse gases emissions. In 2007, the central government has mandated key state-owned enterprises and provincial governors to pledge to achieve a 20% reduction of energy consumption (relative to economic output) over a period of five years. It is the strategy of the central government to implement such reduction through dominant state-owned enterprises.


    The aim of this paper is to identify the similarities and differences between the existing climate-related initiatives in China with those related to CP. Perceptions of the businesses in China on both issues will be discussed. Lessons are to be drawn from the implementation of CP in China and this will have implications to the future development of Climate-related initiatives and the promotion of carbon management among Chinese business. Recommendations are given to suggest possible policy direction in the future.