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Cablegate: Climate Change Network Fills Void in South China

VZCZCXRO7630
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGZ #0023/01 0140737
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140737Z JAN 10
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1292
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0432
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1049
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0358
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0359
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0368
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC 0029
RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC 0055
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC 0234
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 0402
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC 0398
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 GUANGZHOU 000023

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM, OES, AND EEB
STATE PASS EPA
BEIJING FOR ESTH AND ENERGY REPS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV ENRG PGOV PREL CH HK
SUBJECT: Climate Change Network Fills Void in South China

REF: A) 09 GUANGZHOU 17; B) 09 GUANGZHOU 678

GUANGZHOU 00000023 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary and Comment: Wasting no time -- government,
business, and NGO leaders gathered in Guangzhou to celebrate the
launch of the South China Climate Change Network (SCCCN) on the
first workday following the conclusion of the COP-15 Climate Change
Conference. Inspired by a British Consulate initiative, SCCCN will
be run out of the Guangdong Institute for Energy Conversion (GIEC),
a research institute closely affiliated with the provincial
government. With the primary objectives of increasing climate
change awareness and promoting low-carbon development in south
China, the network aims to fulfill several functions, from operating
as an online "information bridge" for publicizing research and
exchanging best practices to serving as a policy think tank capable
of lobbying local government. Although it is not yet clear how much
support the network will receive from government officials, the
SCCCN has the potential to fill a "coordination void" among NGOs and
academics in south China and offers post an important tool for
scaling up outreach on climate change and clean energy. End Summary
and Comment.

--------------------------------------------- ----
RAISING AWARENESS AND PROMOTING LOW-CARBON GROWTH
--------------------------------------------- ----

2. (U) Aware of the challenges Guangdong's manufacturing and
export-based economy poses in terms of rising pollution and growing
carbon emissions, the SCCCN was launched December 21 with the
primary objectives of increasing climate change awareness and
promoting the transition to a low-carbon economic development model
in south China. Defining itself as an "informal, not-for-profit
network for individuals and organizations with an interest in
climate change and clean energy," the SCCCN places no restrictions
on its membership, which is offered at no cost. The network's
target audience consists of renewable energy and energy efficiency
companies, academic researchers, non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), media, policy think tanks and government officials.

3. (SBU) One mechanism SCCCN intends to use to connect key
stakeholders is to create an online "information bridge," which can
be used by academics to publicize research findings and by NGOs and
businesses to exchange best practices. The SCCCN also plans to
distribute via its website a monthly newsletter on climate change
and low-carbon issues. At the network's launch ceremony,
representatives of SCCCN's host organization, GIEC, also discussed
the network's intention to serve as a policy think tank with the
ability to influence local policymakers on behalf of its members.
(Comment: The close affiliation of SCCCN's implementing organization
with the provincial government -- GIEC is the provincial
government's energy strategy research center -- may help facilitate
the network's efforts to shape policy decisions related to climate
change and clean energy. End Comment.)

--------------------------------------------- -
NORWEGIAN, AUSTRALIAN CONSULATES ALSO ON BOARD
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (SBU) The SCCCN grew out of a forum organized by the British
Consulate in April 2009 to gauge public interest in creation of a
climate change network. Based on a favorable response to the
concept, the British supported GIEC in the organization of SCCCN.
Representatives from the Norwegian and Australian Consulates have
also expressed keen interest in the network and were present at the
launch ceremony. During opening remarks, a representative from the
Norwegian Consulate highlighted the timeliness and relevance of the
network's launch, adding that the SCCCN would play a key role in
raising public awareness and providing a platform for accelerating
positive trends in low-carbon development in south China. Likewise,
while noting the high priority her government places on supporting
China's efforts to combat climate change, an Australian consular
official applauded the launch of the SCCCN as an opportunity to
exchange best practices on carbon capture and storage (CCS), carbon
management, and other low-carbon technologies.

-------------------------------------
NETWORK FILLS NGO "COORDINATION VOID"

GUANGZHOU 00000023 002.2 OF 002


-------------------------------------

5. (SBU) The uncertain legal status of many NGOs in south China and
government suspicion of these organizations discourages coordination
of NGO activities (ref A and B), especially those designed to
influence policymakers. In this context, the SCCCN has the
potential to fill a "coordination void" by facilitating the exchange
of best practices between NGOs and by providing a forum for NGO
representatives to interact with each other and with government
officials, academics, and business representatives. Although it is
not yet clear how much active support the SCCCN will receive from
local government, remarks made at the launch ceremony by Wu Hong, a
mid-level official from the Guangzhou Development and Reform
Commission (DRC), who referred to SCCCN as a "timely and relevant"
initiative, seem to indicate a degree of government openness to
engagement with the network.

------------------------------
OPPORTUNITY TO EXPAND OUTREACH
------------------------------

6. (SBU) Comment: At a recent follow-up meeting with SCCCN
organizers, GIEC Energy Strategy Research Center Director Zhao
Daiqing told ESTHOff that she hoped engagement through the SCCCN
would lay the foundation for a long-term cooperation mechanism
between GIEC and U.S. partners, including the Consulate, U.S.-based
research institutions and other USG agencies. During a side
conversation after the meeting, a top SCCCN organizer invited
ESTHOff to sit on the steering committee of the network and provide
input on meeting and conference planning. While the Consulate plans
to limit its participation in the network primarily to an observer
role, the option of publicizing Consulate events on the SCCCN
website and the opportunity SCCCN provides for engagement on a
regular basis with NGOs, academics, business, government and other
consulates should facilitate Post's efforts to strengthen
cooperation and boost outreach related to climate change and clean
energy in south China. End Comment.

JACOBSEN

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