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Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Cross-posted from Americans for Energy Leadership

China is building an ambitious “Solar Valley City” as a new national center for manufacturing, research and development, education, and tourism around solar energy technologies. as part of the Chinese government and industry’s efforts to promote clean energy technology and grow the nation’s global market share (see video below beginning at 10 seconds).

Solar Valley City is located in Dezhou, Shandong Province, where I visited last month as part of a delegation from Stanford University, and it is unlike any city you’ve seen before. The city houses over 100 solar enterprises including major firms like Himin Solar Energy Group Ltd, the world’s largest manufacturing base of solar thermal products, and Ecco Solar Group. According to reports, around 800,000 people in Dezhou are employed in the solar industry, or one in three people of working age.

“China’s solar thermal industry and Himin’s complete industrial chain are examples for the rest of the world. That sounds brash, but it’s true,” said Himin’s CEO Huan Ming in 2009, now one of China’s richest men. Himin specializes in solar thermal technology, producing over twice the annual sales of all solar thermal systems in the United States, and it is quickly expanding into solar photovoltaics and other technologies.

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Published by On Line Opinion, Australia’s leading e-journal of social and political debate.

Recently, the Australian Greens challenged the Rudd Government to “break the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) deadlock” by implementing an interim price on carbon. The move no doubt stunned many with its pragmatism and has since won the backing of the government’s former chief climate change adviser Ross Garnaut. While the move may give the Greens a PR boost, the proposal will work to strengthen the Coalition’s recent framing of carbon pricing as a “great big tax”. This of course has implications for Labor’s climate policy agenda in an election year.

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Some food for thought here: friend-of-Breakthrough Generation, Nathan Wyeth, pens a very thoughtful column on the Copenhagen climate summit focused on the key challenges of fueling sustainable global development and expanded energy-access to the billions of energy poor worldwide, via the new WRI-affiliated blog, NextBillion.net:

Excerpts below with emphasis added:

Copenhagen Climate Summit: The Missing Billions

But although they are often discussed here as the first and worst victims of climate change, the base of the pyramid is, at first glance, invisible in the negotiations in the shape of solutions to climate change. Except in the context of avoiding tropical deforestation, carbon finance relevant to the base of the pyramid is at best a niche conversation. If intensive energy use and land development equal carbon emissions, the base of the pyramid would by definition not appear to be terribly relevant.

This means I have less to blog about except for maybe some side events, but plenty to say. I would argue that there’s is a huge amount wrong with the orientation of these negotiations and the fact that the base of the pyramid is absent gets to the heart of the issue. In a vicious cycle, the weakening of the negotiations will lead to failure in their intended impact, simply hurting the poor even more.

The G77 bloc is angling to increase the $10 billion in annual aid that developed nations are promising to provide in funding for climate change adaptation and mitigation. But it seems likely that there will be plenty of double-counting of that aid money and it’s not enough to begin with to address either mitigation (i.e. low-carbon development) or adaptation. And it’s unclear what this will go towards, who will manage it, what it will truly be intended to do.

As they have in previous years, the negotiations pit the world’s wealthiest 1 billion people against the 3-4 billion who have gained a some level of prosperity and are rising quickly. Who will cut back on carbon – those who already emit a lot, or those who are emitting some and want to emit more in the future? With the negotiations set up like this, it quickly becomes a zero-sum game. Since the UN process relies on the commitment of the nations that constitute it, as a zero-sum game it becomes useless as a force to raise the bar towards clean and sustainable development.

Left out of this picture are the 2-3 billion people who are essentially not using modern energy – at best a little bit of electricity from an unreliable grid, a little bit of kerosene for lighting, diesel to operate machinery or transport, and maybe charcoal or LPG for cooking. But likely using firewood or other biomass for cooking and as likely as not having no access to electricity at all.

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Kevin RuddLess than three weeks from the Australian Senate’s highly anticipated second vote on the CPRS bill, the Australian Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) has revealed new problems with the Rudd Government’s deeply flawed cap-and-trade plan.

Crikey’s national politics correspondent Bernard Keane has found that the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) will require a massive $5 billion of taxpayer subsidies in its first five years, not breaking even until 2022. With the Labor Government releasing this crucial data so late in the game, it’s no wonder that Australia’s policy analysts are finding some interesting surprises.

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Hu-jintao-obama-400x280Speeches made today at the UN’s climate summit may have left much to be desired in the eyes of countries eagerly hoping for the U.S. and China to make specific commitments to emissions reductions in the run-up to climate negotiations in Copenhagen. Yet, willingness on the part of both nations to invest in clean energy technology may signify more direct action to mitigate climate change than any potentially empty emissions promises.

In his speech this morning, China’s President Hu Jintao did not agree to binding carbon emissions targets, however, according to the New York Times, he did outline a four step plan that includes reducing the carbon intensity of the economy to 2005 levels by 2020, boosting nuclear and renewables to account for 15% of China’s power, increasing forest cover, and furthering action to develop a green economy. According to the UN Climate Change Conference website, Hu promised to cooperate on climate change efforts so long as they aligned with China’s ambitious development goals:

“Climate change is an environment issue, but also, and more importantly, a development issue. We should and can only advance efforts to address climate change in the course of development…Out of a sense of responsibility to the world…China has taken and will continue to take determined and practical steps to tackle this challenge,”

While international leaders have put considerable effort into cajoling China, not to mention India, to accept binding emissions reductions targets by the time climate negotiations commence in Copenhagen this December, China’s planned stimulus investment of $440-$660 billion in clean energy over the next ten years is far more indicative of China’s willingness to mitigate climate change as it simultaneously grows its own economy. (more…)

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UN.jpgThe 1947 Marshall Plan seems to be referenced whenever it becomes clear that an overwhelming social problem can only be solved through large scale government spending. The results of the UN’s World Economic and Social Survey 2009 (WESS) revealed the need for just that type of federal investment in order to manage the global climate and energy crisis. And, according to Reuters, the head of Development Policy and Analysis division at the UN department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), Richard Kozul-Wright, believes it may be time to call on the Marshall Plan framework, yet again, this time to fund a green new deal.

Regardless of past global policy, the UN’s WESS enhances the climate debate leading up to the negotiations set to take place in Copenhagen this December, by pointing out the need for a global investment push in clean energy technology, energy efficiency, transportation, and forest-management. Thus far, much of the debate has centered on coercing developing nations to agree to carbon emissions targets – even as rich nations’ carbon “commitments” skew towards symbolism over substance. But as WESS explains:

“[M]itigation and adaptation efforts can move forward effectively only if they are part of a consistent development strategy built around a massive investment-led transformation along low-carbon, high-growth paths.”

That means giving up on Kyoto’s tired call for empty promises to cut emissions. While reducing global carbon intensity was, and is, a primary goal of climate negotiations, targets are not only too narrow a focus to be a viable solution to the climate crisis, they have been shown to be ineffective. As has been explained by the Breakthrough Institute and most recently by Michael Levi, in Foreign Affairs, the Kyoto Protocol is failing because the too weak carbon emissions targets it set are not even being met by the participating countries. (more…)

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AfricaRecognizing the need for a united stance on climate change in preparation for international negotiations in Copenhagen in December, ten African nations issued a joint draft resolution calling for “rich countries” to commit $67 billion per year in compensation for the deleterious effects of unmitigated climate change, according to a report in Reuters.

Africa, which houses 15 of the 20 most climate-change vulnerable countries, will almost certainly endure the most severe negative consequences of climate change, yet it contributes relatively little to the problem.

This new proposal arrives on the heels of a flurry of Copenhagen related news. The Financial Times reported yesterday that both China and India blame developed nations, such as the U.S., for impeding the progress of a climate treaty. As developing nations, they are demanding financial and technological assistance from the major historic contributors to climate change in order to mitigate the effects of a problem they are not primarily responsible for causing. (more…)

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