China releases comprehensive white paper on its climate change policy ahead of key international meetings.
Ahead of the high level technology transfer summit in Beijing next week; next December’s 14th Conference of Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Poznan, Poland, during which a general framework for a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012, will be hashed out; and of course, Halloween, the State Council of the central government has released a white paper on climate change policy titled “Comprehensive Plan on Climate Change.” This white paper also comes on the heels of China’s submission of a viewpoint paper to the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action of the UNFCCC on September 28
While the 11,000 word white paper reads like a kitchen-sink of domestic policies that may seem to ring hollow given the institutional limitations that China observers have come to be so familiar with, the document does provide a good summary of the specific policy programs that China has enacted so far and of future policies that we can expect. Above everything else, the timing of the release of this document is highly strategic, ahead of the above mentioned meetings, as the white paper also states in no uncertain terms various policy positions that seem to have the north and the south heading towards climate deadlock.
China’s position is clear. It wants developed countries to take the lead in curbing emissions and aiding developing countries to meet their low carbon aspirations by providing funding and technology. Let’s tease apart some of the verbiage that leads to this conclusion: Read the full story
External costs (i.e. cost not accounted for in the price tag, such as environmental, public health and other social costs) of coal in China totaled RMB 1.7 trillion (about US$250 billion) in 2007, equivalent to 7.1% of China’s 2007 GDP, according to a landmark report commissioned by Greenpeace, Energy Foundation and World Wildlife Fund released yesterday. “The True Cost of Coal” (Chinese version; English version) is the second high profile report on the Chinese coal industry to be released this month, following one by a group of MIT researchers which we previously discussed here.
Pictured (L-R): Ms. Yang Ailun of Greenpeace, Professor Mao Yushu of the Unirule Institute of Economics, and Dr. Yang Fuqiang of the Energy Foundation at the press conference announcing the release of “The True Cost of Coal” on October 27 at the Swissotel, Beijing.
Professor Mao Yushi of the Unirule Institute of Economics and chief author of the report summarized the rationale of the study:
Environmental and social damages are underestimated while using coal in China, as a result of market failures and weaknesses in government regulations. In order to address these problems, China needs to count these external costs and make the coal price reflect its true costs.
So what makes up this RMB 1.7 trillion bill of external costs? Read the full story
This is the 50th post for The Green Leap Forward! To celebrate, we visited the 2008 China (Beijing) International Energy Saving and Environmental Protection Exhibition held at the Beijing Exhibition Center this past weekend (Oct 17 through 20).
The first thing that strikes the visitor is the Cathedral-like grandeur of the Beijing Exhibition Center. It was opened in 1954 “with the late Premier Zhou En-Lai cutting the red ribbon and Chairman Mao Tse-Tung contributing poetic thoughts.” It doesn’t look like it is LEED-certified, but being more than half a century old, visitors could take heart in the fact that the building’s carbon debt has probably been paid off a while ago.
The Green Leap Forward TV (GLFTV) film crew (i.e. me and my trusty Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS3) spotted a maniacal looking tall white guy among the attendees. He turned out to be none other than the ever-enthusiastic “Sustainable John” from China’s Green Beat fame. John graciously agreed to sum up the mood in the Solar Hut portion of the exhibition:
This other clip shows what it was like in the outside area of the exhibition. Of special focus in this clip was a concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) installation on display. The company that makes these CPV units is Beijing Globalac (北京富利宝公司), which also makes a whole host of other power control systems for various commercial and industrial applications:
There were tons of other exhibits other than solar applications, such as home-scale wind turbines, energy efficient lighting and other home appliances, green building materials, smart electricity meters, electricity consumption monitoring software and hardware, and of course, technological applications that were deployed in the recent “Green Olympics”. According to the Star Daily, there were some 203 vendors spread across some 12,000 plus square meters. It really did feel like a whole lot more than 203 vendors though (felt more like 500 to 1,000, as mentioned in the above video). Here are just a few that caught the eye of GLF TV: Read the full story
The China Carbon Forum 2008 was held at the Renaissance Capital Hotel in Beijing on October 15 and 16. The Green Leap Forward was on site to measure the pulse of China’s carbon markets, but did not leave terribly optimistic. In truth, the speakers at the forum did a good job of highlighting a lot of the problems facing carbon markets, but offered little in the way of solutions. We start first, though, with a primer on carbon markets, but if you are already a pro, skip ahead over this introductory section.
Carbon Markets 101
It is useful to think of the carbon markets as being divided into the primary markets and secondary markets. In the primary markets, carbon credits are generated through the development of energy, forestry, agricultural or other related projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions compared to a baseline. The most common way such credits are generated is through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), a project development framework governed by the Kyoto Protocol which was crafted to allow developed countries to meet part of their emission reduction obligations by purchasing carbon credits called “Certified Emissions Reductions”(CERs) generated by CDM projects in developing countries that have no such obligations, while at the same time providing a carrot for such developing countries to participate in sustinable development activities. Read the full story
Last week, we discussed the startling study by an MIT group on the Chinese coal industry. We dig a little deeper into the global coal industry (and of course tie it back to the Middle Kingdom), with a presentation by Stanford University’s David Victor at Google’s campus.
In case you don’t have that hour or so to spare, I’ve jotted down several points from Dr. Victor’s presentation that stood out for me:
- While one would intuitively think that high oil prices would have a positive effect on fuel conservation, it is actually bad news for coal consumption. Natural gas-fired electricity is coal-fired electricity’s biggest competitor, but because many natural gas contracts (from Russian supply) have natural gas prices indexed to oil prices, rising oil prices have made natural gas expensive as well, and coal a whole lot more attractive as a source of electricity.
- The price of carbon permits in the European Trading Scheme, even at EUR 25 to 30, is nowhere close to where it needs to be to affect coal use consumption behavior. The reason, oil (and thus natural gas) prices are high. Read the full story
Nuclear is Hot. Big 5 power company China Huaneng Group has signed contracts with suppliers to equip its first nuclear power plant in Shandong province. The plant, planned for 200 MW in its first phase with a 2013 start date, will boast “high temperature, gas-cooled technology” (HTR-PM), which is supposed to be safer and simpler in design compared to conventional nuclear plants. It is the smallest of 21 plants in China’s nuclear pipeline. For the tech geeks our there, Tsinghua University, one of the purported suppliers of nuclear equipment for the project, has put out a paper describing HTR-PM. A review of China’s nuclear sector is really overdue here at The Green Leap Forward. Watch for it.
Solar-Powered Water. The Xinjiang government has invested RMB 160 million ($23.5 million USD) in a drip irrigation system powered by solar panels. [Pictured: a picture of a generic drip irrigator stolen from the interweb]. Elsewhere, China Solar & Clean Energy Solutions has been awarded a US$3.5 million solar water heating project in Shenzhen. Separately, the Beijing government announced it will invest RMB 13 billion (US$1.9 billion) over the next three years in Read the full story
Coal-fired power plants account for some 70 to 80% of China’s total power generation. A group of MIT researchers have released a preliminary report on a comprehensive survey of China’s coal power plant industry entitled “Greener Plants, Grayer Skies: A Report from the Front Lines of China’s Energy Sector” (press release here; full report here), revealing surprising conclusions that make the report a must-read for any China energy analyst. In short, their findings, based on a survey of 85 power plants consisting of 299 separate generating units across 14 provinces, accounting for some 5% of China’s coal-fired generating capacity, challenges certain long-held assumptions that outside observers have harbored about China’s coal power industry.
In fact, the report’s findings illustrate very well Read the full story
This is an environmental “Tale of Two Cities.” Two weeks ago, The Green Leap Forward (GLF) attended two separate events introducing two separate emissions rights exchanges in two separate cities. The first was an event hosted by the China Carbon Forum on Sept 23 in the capital, featuring as its main event a presentation introducing the newly formed China Beijing Environmental Exchange (CBEEX or 北京环境交易所) by CBEEX’s Deputy General Manager, Mr. Mei Dewen. Two days later on Sept 25, GLF took the half hour high speed rail eastwards to Tianjin to attend the opening ceremony (pictured below) of the Tianjin Climate Exchange (TCX or 天津排放权交易所) , followed by an extravagant lunch banquet and an afternoon symposium on emissions trading.
BYD Auto/ Warren Buffet Update. Seems like the investment of Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings in Shezhen-based BYD Auto is not just a bet on electric vehicles, but also on the collaboration between MidAmerican and BYD to develop “rapid charge batteries” for electrical grid systems to serve as energy storage for renewable but intermittent power such as wind and solar, revealed MidAmerican’s chairman, David Sokal, at a press conference earlier this week in Hong Kong. (I have argued before in my solar blog how grid-tied energy storage solutions are the key to a clean electricity revolution.) Elsewhere, it appears more definitive that BYD’s entry into the Israeli market will be facilitated by Clal Industries and Investments, a unit of conglomerate IDB Development. Clal will start importing BYD’s electric vehicles into Israel next year. Such developments have apparently caught the eyes of Portland’s city officials, who are trying to woo BYD to start make America’s greenest city its North American hub.
Post-Olympic Traffic Measures Draw Mixed Reactions. As smog re-envelopes Beijing, the capital is reinstating a modified set of traffic measures to curb the growth of auto emissions that will, among other things, ban corporate and private cars from taking to the roads one day per week depending on their license plate number. Xinhua reports mixed reception to the measures, with some contemplating purchasing a second car, and others more astutely observing that “to ban should not be the ultimate way to ease Beijing’s traffic woes… Read the full story