Friday, 24 October 2008

CASS workshop: Low Carbon Development Index work in China

It is encouraging to see how fast things can go when really skillful people want to make things happen. CASS (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) under the leadership of Jiahua Pan, Executive Director, Research Centre for Sustainable Development, have begun developing instrument to measure the progress towards a low carbon economy. This work builds on the joint work that we launched in Copenhagen earlier this year [link (it is Professor Pan talking on the picture)].

We also used the CASS workshop to formally agree to take the next step and have CASS, WWF together with Baoding, Tiruvallur and Project Zero as leading cities to develop the first global low carbon city development index. Dalberg, that also helped during the Copenmind process, is helping to coordinate this work and to ensure high quality.

Professor Pan presented the work so far and a draft outline for a structure that could be used to assess countries and cities. There is a great need for leadership and while few countries have shown leadership so far a lot is happening on the city level. So far no instrument exists that can measure the progress towards a low carbon society, but the work that CASS is embarking on will contribute to the first instrument that also will be able to measure cities progress toward a low carbon economy.

Building on Pan’s framework Zhuang Guiyang presented some initial finding on a country level and ZHU Shouxian presented initial findings on the regional level in China. The work is still under development and the need to further develop indicators for “human welfare” beyond HDI and look into the import/export aspect as well as thinking about the different aspects that should be included (the infrastructure, consumption patterns, industrial contribution, etc).

Zhuang Guiyang also made a very interesting presentation “Measuring the Efforts of Countries towards Low Carbon Economies”. It is a different approach that compare the commitments and strategies of a country in relation to the reductions that are needed to avoid dangerous climate change. This is then compared to the BAU scenario. Still quite a way to go, also for this approach, but already very interesting results and a promising approach that could be used in relation to not only countries, but also cities and companies.