Here’s a 7 minute television interview I did with the US television foreign policy program “Foreign Affairs”, discussing China’s clean energy policies. If you based in the U.S., it may not be too late to catch this on the TV (check schedule).
(p.s. not sure what the first visual on “a new direction for Hong Kong” means!)
I suspect there may be some questions regarding my remarks about Read the full story
We’ve gone more than a month without a “Green Hops” update…what a crime! We atone for that oversight here…
Climate Change and International Cooperation
A “high level” summit in Beijing on international technology transfer and climate change held on November 7 and 8 provided a preview of the international climate change negotiations that have kicked off in Poznan, Poland today. A blogger’s review of the Beijing summit can be found at China Green Space (the young author of which is a personal friend and has been getting some recognition lately). Basically, it is more of the same–China wants free capital and free technology from developed countries. This is the same position as what can be found in the recently released China Climate Change White Paper, which Read the full story
The following is the complete transcript, modified and supplemented for completeness and readability, of the closing speech that the author of this blog (pictured below) delivered on November 11 at the JUCCCE Clean Energy Forum in Beijing.
We are at war. A world war. But unlike World War I or II, this is not a war about military tanks, but it’s a war about gas tanks. This is not a war about military strength, it’s a war about political strength, and innovation. This is not a war about conquering territories, its about conquering our addiction to fossil fuels. And unlike the first two wars, we are all fighting from the same side. We are engaged in a global energy and climate war. We have essentially, through our reckless consumption of the earth’s natural resources, provoked an unanticipated response in the world’s climatic system. We have essentially pitted Mother Nature against Mother Nature, and we are all caught in the middle.
So what now?
We need a serious restructuring of the way we organize our energy system, implement new rules and policies, and adopt new ways of using energy. We need to, as Rob Watson says, change transform “ego-nomics” into “eco-nomics,” and we do this by appropriate adapting human laws to the immutable laws of nature.
So how do we get there? How do we achieve the innovation to meet the energy-climate challenge? We need an smart and well informed mix of regulatory and market mechanisms. There is no single silver bullet, but I believe that over the past two days of discourse, we have collectively started forming a framework for the array of solutions, a full complement of many green bullets to get the green revolution under way. I see three themes emerging from our discussions: 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
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
Today’s headlines were predictably dominated by the new two-week round of Climate Change talks in Bali, Indonesia, participated by delegates of some 190 countries. This is the round where it is expected that negotiations for a successor protocol to the Kyoto Protocol, once the latter expires in 2012, are to commence (and hopefully conclude within a two year time frame). With Australia providing a rare piece of good news on the eve of the proceedings that it has ended its hold-out and ratified the Kyoto Protocol (leaving the U.S. as the only developed country to have not ratified it) all attention is on the “Big Three”–the U.S., China and India (neither China or India are obliged to make obligatory emissions cuts due to their developing country status)–to meaningfully participate in the global process.
The U.S. has repeatedly made clear that it is staunchly opposed to binding itself to any obligations without China and India participating. China, on the other hand, wants developed nations to take the lead (and so does the U.N.). Gao Guangsheng, a senior Chinese climate change official, has been critical of the efforts of developed countriesto provide help in funding, and especially, technology. While China has benefited lucratively from the Clean Development Mechanism(CDM)under the auspices of the Kyoto Protocol, there have been limited transfers of meaningful technology because the majority of CDM projects in China target the destruction of HFC-23 (a greenhouse gas found mostly in low-tech refrigerators), a task that required technology that is readily available in the rest of the world. It can be inferred that the lack of intellectual property protection is what’s making technological investments in China unattractive to multinational corporations, and this surely must be addressed sooner rather than later.
We need not rely on moral arguments alone. Article 3.1 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Article 10 of the Kyoto Protocol make clear that any actions that treaty participants bind themselves to should be in accordance to the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.” Here’s a heavy legal explanation, but simply put the phrase means that differences in development levels, historical responsibilities and current per capita emissions of various countries. should be taken into account when determining the obligations of different countries. This phrase is by no means a novel concept; it is a principle of international environmental law etched into the Rio Declaration of 1992 that the U.S. is in fact a signatory of.
15 years later the U.S. is still acting like it doesn’t understand it.
To be sure, China is well aware of the threats that climate change poses. Over the weekend, reports have told of how China is now experiencing the hottest temperatures in over 50 years. And just today, there was an article in the South China Morning Post(subscription required) of how climate change is expanding the tropical zone, in some places as much as also five degrees, such that Shanghai might now be thought of as a tropical city. My previous post has briefly discussed some of the measures that China has enacted, some of which are quite progressive and unprecedented. While China still has a ways to go to figure out how to reduce its overwhelming reliance on coal, as BP likes to say, “its a start.”