18 Sep 2017

UN Environment, Chinese State-Run Environment Group Join Forces on Efficient District Energy

Yantai, China 15 September 2017 – UN Environment and the China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group (CECEP) today joined forces to improve energy efficiency and renewable energy use in Chinese cities, and so contribute to the fight against climate change.

The partnership will explore efficiency gains and more renewable sources in district energy – a system that heats or cools multiple buildings through underground pipes – and integrated planning.

It will also support China’s International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road, which aims to green a complex network of transport links and associated infrastructure being developed in Asia, Europe and East Africa.

“Over half of the world’s population lives in cities, and by 2050, this will rise to 65 per cent. Tackling energy use in cities is not only a pathway to clean air, improving public health and driving job creation, but also to limiting climate change to safer levels," said Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment.

"We're delighted to partner with the China Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Group, and show all the positives aspects of greater energy efficiency in Chinese cities.”

The state-owned CECEP has huge influence in China, providing support as the technical and political advisor to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), as well as industries, on energy efficiency and wider environmental issues – including drafting national policies.

The work will begin in Yantai, where both the group and the National Development and Reform Commission of China are linking up with the Global Environment Facility-funded District Energy in Cities Initiative. Up to 10 cities will be selected to take part in the initiative.

Specifically, the Memorandum of Understanding agrees cooperation in:

  • developing policies, incentives, and business models for district energy systems in Chinese cities;
  • organizing training and capacity building on environmental technologies in other developing countries to support the International Coalition for Green Development on the Belt and Road; and
  • increasing Chinese private sector participation in international environmental activities and communicating the collaboration’s achievements.      

In 2014, UN Environment started the District Energy in Cities initiative as part of the Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All Initiative. The initiative contributes to the goal of doubling the global rate of energy efficiency improvement by 2030.

The initiative helps national and municipal governments adopt district energy systems that provide efficient and renewable heating and cooling services, and reduce pollution.  Thirty-three cities and ten countries are involved, including China. The Initiative has over 40 partners – city networks, governments, industry, financiers, universities, and system operators. 

UN Environment has already been working with the National Development and Reform Commission to promote efficient district energy – which was a technical solution in the G20 Energy Efficiency Leading Programme, begun under China’s G20 leadership in 2016.

During the Inception Meeting of the China Project of the District Energy Initiative just held today in Yantai City, Shandong Province, China, the speaker from the Commission expressed they were keen to further strength the cooperation with UN Environment on the Global Initiative of District Energy System (DES) in Cities to realize China's ambitions on energy production and consumption transition for the reason that the DES is now  probably the most relevant and critical solution to tackle this issue in China.

For more information on District Energy, visit the initiative’s website here or contact with:

Lily Riahi, Programme Manager – District Energy Initiative, Energy & Climate Branch,

Nanqing Jiang, Programme Management Officer, China Office ,

Source: UN Environment

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