Posts Tagged ‘China’

Cross posted at The Real Ewbank and Beyond Zero Emissions.

The Australian Greens have put high-speed rail (HSR) back on the national agenda. Greens leader Senator Bob Brown has called on the Rudd government to fund a study identifying the best route for connecting Australia’s two largest cities, Melbourne and Sydney, with HSR.

The ambitious project represents the type of nation building that should be at the heart of national climate policy. The project has the potential to reduce Australia’s ballooning carbon emissions, and kick-start the development of a larger HSR network that can one day connect all of Australia’s mainland capital cities.



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us_map_windtubinesClean energy technology hubs are rapidly developing all over the world, except in the United States. Business leaders who met at the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit acknowledged that massive government investment has created vibrant clean energy markets in countries around the world, but unfortunately the U.S. has not taken part in this trend. As The Business Insider reports, Google Green Energy Czar, Bill Weihl noted:

“Other countries, China being one of the major examples, are investing very heavily in this space across the whole innovation pipeline…from shower to power, from the idea in the shower to generating the power (in a) commercial scale enterprise.”

Just yesterday, the China Greentech Initiative released a report describing how large-scale government investment is driving a clean energy market that could be worth upwards of US$1 trillion annually.

While China is home to some of the fastest growing clean energy centers, particular in the solar industry, Denmark, Japan, South Korea, India, North Africa, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi are all directly investing in creating domestic clean energy hubs.

Executives in Silicon Valley, who have become accustomed to leadership in key technology industries like IT and semiconductors are starting to sense the shift in power. (more…)

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china yuan-thumb-200x150-1The China Greentech Initiative, a partnership of more than 80 largely Western companies and organizations, released a hefty report (registration required) projecting that China’s massive government investment in its “greentech” industry will drive follow-on private sector investment that could create a national market worth up to US$1 trillion annually.

According to the report:

“Chinese government policies are positive drivers for greentech market development and…stakeholders have clear opportunities to accelerate market development…”

The report evaluates the market potential of a variety of “green” technologies including renewable energy and low carbon transportation, which are expected to be two of the largest growth sectors.

Through strong policies and financial support, the Chinese government has been a major driver of China’s clean energy markets. In addition to numerous fiscal incentives and subsidies for clean energy, China’s economic stimulus plan allocated 37% of its US$586 billion ($4 trillion yuan) to “greentech” sectors. China is also planning a new stimulus to invest $440 to $660 billion over 10 years focusing specifically on renewable energy. (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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Solar_05.14093807_stdTo some, recent discussion of the “clean energy race” is just the latest iteration of flashy climate change rhetoric, refurbished and repackaged as a do-or-die clean technology race between the U.S. and Asia. Yet, as a New York Times piece entitled “China Racing Ahead of U.S. in the Drive to Go Solar,” testifies, the clean energy challenge is more than just verbal tap dancing, it’s a dynamic economic competition – and China is earning its racing stripes.

While the U.S. is still floundering with ad-hoc investments in clean energy, China has developed a straight-forward, no-nonsense approach to achieving its 2GW solar capacity target by 2011 and gaining leadership in the solar industry: build market share. With the help of serious government investment, China is on the path to achieving that goal. Chinese companies like, Suntech Power Holdings, have succeeded in driving solar panel price reductions over the last six months by selling panels on the U.S. market below the marginal cost. Furthermore, China is circumventing protectionist legislation by constructing assembly plants in the U.S.

According to Steven Chan, Suntech president for global sales and marketing, the first plant will be located in Phoenix, Arizona and will allow China to tap into the portion of the market that wants to “‘buy American’ and things like that.” The catch, however, is that even though the panels will be constructed in America, by Americans, the components will, of course, be made in China. (more…)

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US ChinaA second piece on nationalism in the context of the clean energy race was published on Mother Jones’ blog MoJo, and is evidence that the growing body of discourse around this issue has struck a very resonant chord. In the post, entitled “Harnessing Nationalism,” Kevin Drum offers poignant, if somewhat veiled, criticism of the rhetoric behind the “clean energy race” narrative.

Inspired by The New Republic’s Bradford Plumer, the post starts with a lengthy quote whose primary point is this: the clean energy race is not a zero-sum competition because everyone stands to benefit if China makes a significant effort to reduce emissions by investing in clean technology.

First, as Drum puts it, Plumer’s commentary may be an attempt at “intellectual honesty,” but honesty doesn’t make it completely accurate. True, the whole world will benefit from advancements in clean energy no matter where it comes from, but China is not motivated to compete in the clean tech industry by emissions reductions – it is driven by the potential for economic gain.

As a (rapidly) developing nation, economic development, not emissions targets, is the highest priority. Thus, the race is not about emissions, it is about whose economy stands to benefit from leadership in clean technology.

Drum views the clean energy race through “green” tinted glasses, as well, preferring the “race” rhetoric to the alternative: the apocalyptic narrative that has clearly failed to motivate effective climate change action. Rhetorically speaking, framing the need to reduce carbon emissions as a clean energy race is both more engaging and more productive. As he aptly declares:

If this kind of thing got us to the moon, maybe it can save the planet as well. I say we go along.

The clean energy race, however, is more than just a new and improved framing mechanism or encouragement of America’s honed nationalistic tendencies – it is an economic truth. What Drum misses when he writes off the recent proliferation of clean energy articles as hype, is that this issue could both be an effective rhetorical tool as well as a humbling reality. (more…)

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US ChinaWhen the Breakthrough Institute’s Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus began advocating for a paradigm shift in the global approach to climate change in the early 2000’s, they could not have predicted that a paradigm shift of another variety might occur simultaneously. That is: a shift in the balance of global power.

In an op-ed entitled, “Rebalancing Relations with China,” published in the Washington Post this week, Henry Kissinger assessed the power shift occurring between the U.S. and China, calling for Sino-American cooperation in lieu of boisterous assertions of nationalistic superiority and hegemonic power.

A Nobel Peace Prize winner, former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State during the Nixon Administration, Kissinger is a known proponent of realpolitik. Although that term typically has a negative connotation in the U.S. and is often associated with power abuse, the word actually refers to a theory of politics grounded in the realistic assessment of power, rather than ideology.

In accordance with this theory, Kissinger’s puts forth an ideology-free assessment of the current relationship between the United States and China. China’s position as America’s largest creditor and the economic crisis, in combination, have served to level the playing field between the two nations. Faced with increasing economic interdependence and China’s conflicting interest in reducing that dependence, “ambivalence,” Kissinger asserts, “is the inevitable consequence.”

In Kissinger’s estimation, a new political framework that recognizes China as a global economic power will be crucial to revitalizing the world economy. From this standpoint, there are three ways a Sino-American relationship could play out on the global stage. (more…)

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