A loud bang on a gong by former British prime minister Tony Blair and several other people signaled the start of a partnership on Monday between the Climate Group - an international climate action organization - and five Chinese cities that aims to blaze a new trail for low carbon development during the coming three years.

With more than 100 cities with a population of more than one million, China's cities are at the forefront of the fight against global climate change, said Mark Kenber, CEO of the Climate Group, at the launch of the "China Redesign" program. It's urgent for cities to "switch from the old-style way of doing business to a new way, placing an emphasis on clean energy, energy efficiency, innovation, pioneering and new technology," Kenber said.

Under the program, the Climate Group will work with the five cities, businesses, financial institutions and experts to develop and implement sustainable urban development strategies tailored to their different needs and introduce clean technologies. The goal is to help the cities cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. The cities will then help the country meet its binding targets for energy efficiency and environmental protection. China has pledged to reduce energy intensity per unit of GDP by 16 percent and cut carbon intensity by 17 percent from its 2010 levels during the next five years. "It's unprecedented that we set the reduction of carbon dioxide emission as a binding target in our 12th Five-Year Plan," said Jiang Zhaoli, an official from the National Development and Reform Commission.

The Chinese government and its people will take concrete action to realize this promise made in front of the international community, Jiang said. Also under the program, 10 experimental projects will be carried out in the five cities to find practical solutions in renewable energy, sustainable transport, green building construction, energy management and green industrialization. While facing challenges because of the increasing demand for energy, some provincial and city governments have supported low carbon economies.

"Guiyang city, capital of Guizhou province, relies heavily on fossil fuels to power its economic development and coal still accounts for 65 percent of its energy consumption", he said, "However, we can neither follow the same development path as developed countries nor copy the development model in coastal regions." Guiyang has enjoyed some positive changes from the low carbon development pattern it has followed since 2000, seeing more tourists and more blue sky days.

(Source: China Daily)