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New jobs rising from China's smog

Updated: 2014-12-14 15:12
By Fu Jing (China Daily Europe)

As the country makes radical efforts to improve its energy efficiency, fresh opportunities abound

At a reception for a climate summit in Paris on Dec 2, a woman from Guangdong province approached me with her name card. Looking at it carefully, I was taken aback by her title: carbon trader.

As the country attempts radical efforts to improve its energy efficiency and pollution control, I have long known that China has established several pilot carbon trading centers in Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai and other cities. The nation has even vowed to have a national carbon trading market by 2016.

I have also known that many people have been working in environmental NGOs, climate change research and sustainability policy lobbying, a swath of work that I like to label as "green jobs". As China rapidly accelerates its development modes, these opportunities have been rising.

But as the carbon trader stood before me, I was truly in awe. Her position is likely on the newest list of jobs in China and this was my very first meeting with a person in this line of work.

While the woman told me she was among the first of 300 carbon traders in China educated at the Sun Yat-Sen University in 2013, her broad smiles told me that she enjoys the job.

Carbon trading markets are very similar to stock exchange markets and include brokers, analysts and traders. The Dec 2 encounter with the carbon trader partly illustrates that market-oriented approaches to emissions control could produce a lot of new opportunities.

According to its national plan to tackle climate change, China will try to link its emissions trading market to overseas carbon trading platforms as it plans for the 2016 debut of the national market.

China recently set a target of cutting carbon emissions to 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 while also pledging to reduce the amount of carbon it emits per unit of GDP to a range of 40 to 45 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

It is obvious that the emissions trading market will play a large role in achieve those targets. But carbon trading is a fresh concept and training and further education are essential for new professionals to obtain qualifications. China's education authorities should look to the example set up by Sun Yat-Sen University and begin designing curricula for these new vocations.

China can also learn from experiences in Europe and the US, where market-based trading institutions are cropping up quickly. China has been a fast learner in concepts that tackle climate change since the Copenhagen climate summit was held five years ago.

But today, the determination to battle climate change is unprecedented. Just think about it. If every province in China set up a carbon trading center, there would be thousands of new jobs.

That night, I also had a lively chat with a French public relations manager who said his company offers niche services by linking carbon control and social media.

"What we are doing now is to brand green images of my clients by engaging the young people via social media," he said with pride.

This new trend has also captured academia. Zheng Baowei, a professor at Renmin University of China, has been involved in climate change and communication research since the Copenhagen summit of 2009. He recently set up a research center on climate change with the help of three doctoral students.

Before the 12-day UN climate change talks in Lima, Peru, went into full swing, I participated in discussions and debates in Paris and Brussels as part of a one-year countdown before the UN's crucial climate conference in Paris in 2015.

My dialogues with hundreds of representatives from China and Europe have been more friendly, forward-looking and practical.

And the atmosphere and attitude related to China's involvement in the global topic of climate change has been seen as positive. When I was in line waiting for a taxi after arriving at the southern train station of Brussels on Dec 3, I saw an electric taxi produced by BYD, a major Chinese electric vehicle maker. At that time, I realized that climate change has brought industrial opportunities to China.

The author is China Daily chief correspondent in Brussels. Contact the writer at fujing@chinadaily.com.cn

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