Guangdong in southern China is an economic powerhouse. Over the past two decades the region has experienced huge growth, built on the back of a strong manufacturing industry. Today it is the country’s most populous province with a GDP of over $1.2 trillion – similar to that of Australia, Spain or Russia.
Powering this economic boom has required vast quantities of resources and energy, and dealing with the sustainability impact from business activity is a major challenge for China. But it is also an area where significant action is being taken, both at a national and local level, with aggressive targets enshrined in the nation’s 13th Five Year Plan.
However, in an economic system built on supply and demand, it is difficult to address the sustainability issues related to production without looking at consumption at the same time. And as commercial success has increased the prosperity of the Chinese people, an economy that was previously geared towards export now has a growing domestic demand for goods and services.
To help encourage lower carbon consumption the Guangdong Provincial Development and Reform Commission developed the concept of the Tan Pu Hui system in 2015. This is a mechanism for incentivising and rewarding lower carbon behaviour and purchases, and developing a marketplace for low carbon goods and services for use by households.
However, before the scheme can be developed, it needs to be designed. On 28 July 2016, at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Guangzhou, a research project was officially launched to build the framework and platforms that will underpin the Tan Pu Hui system. This research is being led by the China Electronic Product Reliability and Environmental Testing Research Institute (CEPREI Certification Body) with support from the Carbon Trust.
The research project has been made possible thanks to funding from the UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The involvement of the Carbon Trust will draw on fifteen years of experience in the UK and around the world on the effective measurement and communication of the carbon emissions from products and services. The project will run until March 2017 and will engage with a range of government stakeholders, academics and industry experts for their perspectives.
An initial pilot of the scheme has been run across Guangzhou, Zhongshan, Huizhou, Dongguan, Heyuan, Shaoguan, and Hengqin Free Trade Zone in Zhuhai. The intention is to roll it out the Tan Pu Hui system across the entire province of over 100 million people no later than 2020. The bigger opportunity is to support the development of an effective system for promoting sustainable consumption and low carbon behaviour in China.
Attending the launch were: Bing Nie, the director of Tan Pu Hui Development Centre in CEPREI and executive council member of Economic and Policy Research in Guangdong Province; Craig Morley, the Head of Climate Change, Low Carbon Economy, and Energy at the British Consulate-General in Guangdong; Jan Van der Ven, the Director of the Carbon Trust Asia; Professor Zhongyi Yang, Director of the Institute of Environment and Ecology at Zhongshan University; and other invitees from academia, industry and local government.