In the past 30 years, Denmark has been successful in sustaining rapid economic growth and at the same time reducing energy dependency and CO2 emissions. China Daily reporters had an exclusive interview with Tomas Anker Christensen, undersecretary of Center for Global Challenges from the Danish Foreign Ministry. He spoke about “the Danish example” and the cooperation between China and Denmark in low-carbon urban development. See Part I

Part II

Q: China has committed itself to reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 40 to 50 percent by 2020 and the Chinese central government is also working very hard to include low-carbon plans in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015), which shows China’s determination to develop low-carbon economy. So do you think what can China learn from “the Danish Example”? Do you have any low-carbon technology ideas you’d like to introduce to China?

A: Well, I think my talks today with Chinese officials have shown that China really is very capable itself of developing the thinking and setting its targets. We have a long traditional already for cooperation with China on these issues, and a number of Chinese-Danish corporations with businesses, and scientists and universities is already ongoing. So I would just urge China to continue on the path that is already set and keep up the good work. It’s very encouraging what China is setting up to do. And especially also in the field of renewable energy – the way that China has also willing to invest, and wind power and solar power and hydro power is really a very good example that China is setting also for other developing countries. So it’s very good.

Q: What do you think is China’s biggest challenge in building low-carbon cities?

A: Well, as I also mentioned with Denmark: One thing is setting the target, another thing is the implementation. It’s actually getting the work done and to get all the actors that have to realize that they are doing this not only for some far way political goal, but they are actually doing it because it’s in their own interests of doing so. I think, if I see it from the Danish perspective, one big challenge is the sector of transportation, and it is really to bring down the emissions from cars and buses - that’s one. And the other that China seems to be working on but a lot can be done is energy efficiency in buildings. Buildings, according to all calculations that have done by international agencies, can be up to 50 percent more efficient in terms of the energy that they use, the heat they let out, or the cool they let out. And therefore, if you set good standards for buildings, you can actually save a lot of money by just making sure that they are constructed in a way that saves energy. And I think China is able to move very far, especially in the urban setting.

Q: China has also made significant investments in renewable energy. What suggestion and experiences can Denmark provide in developing renewable energy?

A: I think the focus that China has already on wind power and solar power is very good, and I think while the rest of the world is also looking to China, because China, because of its size and the scale can also bring down the cost of producing wind mills and solar panels. I think that’s the biggest challenge that we have globally right now, is that the cost of producing wind energy is still much higher than the cost of producing energy through coal. And the cost of wind energy has to be reduced for it to be good business for consumers and energy consumers, so I think the scale of investment that is now taking place in China is very encouraging.

Q: How can China and Denmark cooperate in low-carbon urban development?

A: I think we can develop more concepts; we can develop more energy efficient buildings; we can look at how to find solutions that will enable electric cars and the urban environment. There are still many questions as how to do it, how to have electric grade, how to make sure that cars are loaded with electricity when the electricity demand otherwise is low. There’s a lot of also computer software that goes into that, and there are many technical solutions that have to be found. So I think also the testing of, say, electric cars or buses in China and in Denmark in different types of settings is a very good example of cooperation that can lead to good results.

Q: This time, what do you want to accomplish on your visit to China?

A: Well, I’ve come in order to learn more about what China is doing but also to talk to Chinese businesses – some of the leaders in the green sector and Chinese government – about an initiative that the Danish government is launching on green growth, because we think that we have to collect, if you want good examples from all over the world, to show how green investments can lead to job creations and production that is still low-carbon in an urban environment and for the benefit of citizens and businesses alike. And we think there are some very good cases and lessons to be learned in China that we would like to include in this initiative. So I had very good talks, and it’s been very encouraging.

Q: How can the Global Green Growth initiative help China and other countries promote a low-carbon economy?

A: We think that if we bring together businesses that are committed to the green growth and get them to talk to each other – businesses from around the world –and then talk to also regulators and policy makers, we will be able to understand better what kind of environment is conducive to getting the right investments and the right solutions. Because right now there seem to be a lot of barriers that are different in nature in each country but that still favor energy solutions based on fossil fuels rather than, for example, renewables – and that goes for both developed and developing countries. And we want to engage both businesses and governments in finding solutions that can bypass these barriers. That’s the point.

Tomas Anker Christensen: The Danish model of low-carbon cities (I)

Quotable Quotes
Ronald Denom
Low-carbon city is hundreds, it's thousands of little actions that added up all together end up producing carbon.

Jorge Mora
But what is the main challenge? It's not about what your government wants. It's not about if it's possible or not. It is about what you Chinese citizens really want.

Deborah A. McCarthy
Our challenge is to come up with a global norm. That will enable us to all be on the same line or sheet of music.

Chen Guangbiao
Now we have forest police, why shouldn't we establish an environment police?

Zheng Guoguang
The country wants to develop nuclear power. The safety questions, atmospheric environment evaluation questions and, possibly, emergency response questions must be taken into consideration.

Liu Zhengdong
Aluminum is, in the short term, an industry of high-energy consumption. But in the long term, it is a high energy-carrying industry.

Liu Tongbo
I think Beijing should also develop more bicycle lines. This is a good way to improve the traffic and the air quality.

Tomas Anker Christensen: The Danish model of low-carbon cities (I)
Tomas Anker Christensen: China is setting a good example (II)
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