The Green Team Speaks to…QIAN GUOQIANG

Qian Guoqiang is the vice general manager of SinoCarbon, China carbon market specialist, business executive, and former climate negotiator. He has provided policy and technical consultancy to central government ministries, provincial and municipal governments, and large enterprises for many years. Previously, he worked at China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and served as a member of the Chinese delegation for climate negotiations, a member of the UN Joint Implementation Supervisory Committee (JISC), the senior carbon finance advisor to International Finance Corporation, and the board director of the Gold Standard.

Qian Guoqiang is the lead author of the policy paper on developing a monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) system to support and encourage the operationalizing of China’s national carbon market.

  1. The national carbon market was officially unveiled in December 2017. While a positive step, it was significantly below expectations. How do you think about this? What should we expect in the 2018 and in 5 years in terms of challenges and opportunities?

Carbon market is an important policy tool for China to control greenhouse gas emissions, adjust industrial structure, and promote eco-civilization construction. To build a robust, mature carbon market, one must follow the basic approach of step-by-step and learning by doing, and China is no exception. It’s fair to say that China has made great yet hard-won progress in building national carbon market. The next step is to put in what is lacking against the targets set in the carbon market development plan, build up market components step by step, and optimize the market and regulation by drawing lessons and experiences of early phase.

  1. An MRV system is to a national carbon market as accounting is to a multinational corporation. Is that a fair statement to illustrate the important role of a MRV system in more accurate and systematic data collection?

It’s OK to say so. The prerequisite for establishing a carbon market is to quantify invisible and intangible carbon emission and ensure that all data is accurate and reliable, or we cannot sustain market credibility. The MRV system is the critical underpinning of carbon market. No carbon market without MRV system.

  1. Given the importance of a robust MRV system, what should the Chinese government do to promote this, and thereby assist the growth of the national carbon market?

The carbon market is not to be built in a day. It takes time. We have to understand reasonably and objectively and tolerate those problems to be happened in the course of MRV system development.

On one hand, the government should strengthen top-level design and planning; specify the targets, lay down the approaches, speed up building of MRV system and standards, and also regulate third-party verifiers. One the other hand, it should focus on practices by promoting efficiency of capacity building and driving execution of MRV system as early as possible. Through learning by doing, it should try to spot problems in field work and sum up best practices for further improvement.

  1. Issues with data collection are always front and center in regards to MRV systems. How is data collected and verified in key industries? What can other industries do to improve?

So far, eight sectors have collected, reported and verified carbon emissions data as required. The NDRC has finished the data collection of 2013-2015 as well as data collection for 2016 and 2017. In order to improve data quality, the NDRC is requiring companies to submit data monitoring plans for years to come. While different sectors are facing quite different challenges with regard to data quality. The power sector has only one line of product, simple production process, higher level of standardization, and solid foundation of data collection and reporting.

Improvement of data quality lies in capacity building and accuracy of data monitoring. The data possibly obtained by on-site measuring should be adopted as much as possible. For the other industrial sectors, particularly chemicals sector, since it involves numerous products and sophisticated processes, its data quality depends on capacity building and practical experience learning. It should further revise and improve the existing guidelines for GHG emission verification, and further facilitate companies to establish their internal data monitoring and collection systems in lines with their facilities and production, to ensure that the date can be monitored, reported and verified.

  1. Which historical person do you most admire?

Deng Xiaoping