Climate Leadership Academy

“If Jiangsu and Guangdong can be successful, there is hope for China’s low carbon development.”
—Junfeng Li, Deputy Director of the National DRC Energy Research Institute

Developing Low Carbon Cities in China

ISC’s first international Climate Leadership Academies help Chinese officials develop strategies for low carbon city planning

As global climate disruption and greenhouse gas emissions become increasingly urgent problems, ISC is working in the U.S. and China—the world’s two largest emitters—to help them reduce harmful greenhouse gases.

In the U.S., ISC’s Climate Leadership Academies help city officials and climate practitioners accelerate local solutions to these global issues. In May, ISC held its third U.S. academy, which focused on creating green jobs, particularly among low-income populations, and developing clean energy economies in cities.

In July 2010, using the successful U.S. academies as a model, ISC held its first two Climate Leadership Academies in China, one in each of the country’s most industrialized provinces, Guangdong and Jiangsu.

The trainings, organized in the cities of Guangzhou (July 8-10) and Nanjing (July 13-14), focused on low carbon city planning and development. They brought together senior municipal officials and other local leaders from 18 cities to help them create low carbon action plans—which the Chinese government will likely require of all cities in the coming year.

Hosted by several government agencies—Guangdong Human Resources and Social Security Department, Organizational Department of Jiangsu CPC Committee, Jiangsu Development and Reform Commission (DRC)—the trainings were organized by ISC in partnership with Sun Yat-Sen University, Nanjing University, the SDT Foundation, and Shining Stone Community Action.

The two Climate Leadership Academies covered a variety of topics such as low carbon city concepts, approaches, and tools, as well as how to engage stakeholders across sectors in decision making. In Guangzhou, 25 director-level senior officials from the cities of Zhuhai, Heyuan, Dongguan, Foshan, and host city Guangzhou—combined population of more than 28 million—attended the training.

In Nanjing, 26 deputy mayors and DRC directors from all 13 major cities in Jiangsu participated, and Mr. Xu Ming, the Vice Governor of Jiangsu Province, delivered opening remarks. “The Chinese government has set a clear goal for carbon emission reduction in 2020,” said Ming, “and Jiangsu province is determined to transform the mode of economic development. It is very beneficial for us to develop a strategy for growth, and this training workshop is in line with the big picture.”

More than 20 national and international experts were brought in to deliver high-quality training, including senior representatives from Boston, Minneapolis and Seattle, and Mr. Junfeng Li, Deputy Director of the National DRC Energy Research Institute.  “If Jiangsu and Guangdong, the two most developed provinces in China, can be successful in this initiative,” said Li, “there is hope for China’s low carbon development.”

Steve Nicholas, ISC’s Vice President of Climate & Environment Programs, gave a presentation on “What is a Low Carbon City? The Seattle Case,” based on his eight years as Seattle’s Sustainability Director.  Gayle Prest shared Minneapolis’s sustainability indicators and drivers for low carbon development, and Bryan Glascock described Boston’s climate action plan and the city’s experience with building energy efficiency.

In addition to the in-depth learning from experts, Chinese participants also praised the interactive peer learning approach—unique to ISC’s academies—which helped them build connections and learn from counterparts in other cities as well as their own.  “This is the most special, memorable and inspiring training that I have ever experienced,” said Mr. Zhang Zhichuan, Deputy Director of the Heyuan City Planning and Construction Bureau.

The event sets the stage for a series of Climate Leadership Academies over the next three years, which will include deeper capacity building in the various aspects of low carbon development—improving energy efficiency, developing efficient transportation, and adapting to climate change.

ISC's inaugural China Climate Leadership Academy Faculty is in place for the program's first three years, made up of practitioners from cities and regions across the U.S.  We are proud to welcome to our team these dedicated trailblazers on climate action, and look forward to working with them to help continue the transition to low carbon Chinese cities.

The Climate Leadership Academy is a major capacity building activity within the “Cities” component of ISC’s U.S.-China Partnership for Climate Action program. For more information, please contact ISC’s Low Carbon City Program Manager, Pan Tao.