June 9, China’s Energy Future: How Clean, How Fast?

Valerie J. Karplus

MIT Sloan School of Management, Professor of Global Economics & Management

Courtesy of MIT Club of Northern California, Co-sponsored by IEEE PES/IAS of Santa Clara Valley

Thursday, June 9, 2016
Dinner 6:30-7:30pm

Program 7:30-9:30pm

3333 Coyote Hill Road
Palo Alto, CA 94304



$45 General Admission                                  

Enter Promotion Code IEEE609 to get $10 discount

Will solar, wind, and nuclear replace coal electricity in China?

Will energy demand continue to grow as China’s economic structure shifts?

What will these dynamics mean for the global energy system and CO2 emissions?

China’s energy system is changing rapidly on many fronts. Slower economic growth is calling into question the need for sustained expansion of the energy supply. At the same time, the structure of the economy is shifting away from energy-intensive, export-led growth in favor of domestic consumption. Severe local air pollution and its public health consequences are creating pressure to reduce reliance on coal, especially in the populous eastern coastal provinces. China has also pledged to mitigate global climate change by reaching peak CO2 emissions by 2030, by reducing CO2 intensity by 60-65% by 2030, relative to 2005, and raising the contribution of non-fossil energy to 20% of the nation’s primary energy mix by the same year.

What do these developments mean for China’s energy system over the next 15 years? Prof. Karplus will discuss what it will take to reach peak CO2 emissions in China by 2030—and why there is a good chance that this peak will arrive early. The presentation will begin with an overview of China’s energy system and the policies and institutions that will influence the nature and pace of a clean energy transition. She will then discuss analysis by the MIT-Tsinghua China Energy and Climate Project on what China’s climate pledge, economic growth and structure transition, and ongoing energy system reforms will mean for the pace and difficulty of achieving a transition to cleaner forms of energy. She will also elaborate on what climate policies focused on CO2 will mean for air pollution and efforts to meet near-term air quality improvement goals.

The presentation will conclude with a discussion of why a clean energy transition will not be quick or easy. Using examples from China’s experience in recent years, she will discuss the on-the-ground implementation challenges that advocates of transition face, including monitoring, reporting, and verification of CO2 emissions data, conflicting incentives, and the need for greater policy coordination. A discussion of the main uncertainties involved will complete this tour de force of China’s energy future

Valerie Karplus is an Assistant Professor of Global Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. She studies resource and environmental management in firms operating in diverse national and industry contexts, with a focus on the role of institutions and management practices in explaining performance.

She is an expert on China’s energy system, including technology and business model innovation, energy system governance, and the management of air pollution and climate change. From 2011 to 2015, she directed the MIT-Tsinghua China Energy and Climate Project, a five-year research effort focused on analyzing the design of energy and climate change policy in China, and its domestic and global impacts. Through continuing collaboration with Tsinghua University, she studies the technological and organizational challenges of managing energy and its environmental impacts in China.

She is a faculty affiliate of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and the MIT Energy Initiative. She teaches Entrepreneurship without BordersNew Models for Global Business, and is currently developing a new course on Global Energy Markets and Policy.  She holds a BS in biochemistry and political science from Yale University and a PhD in engineering systems from MIT.

Questions?  Please contact Douglas Spreng at dougspreng@alum.mit.edu )

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