First green superpower?

I am interrupting my blogging holiday to publish a couple of links to a thought-provoking items of Christmas television (one today and one tomorrow). First up, an item re-broadcast on the BBC News Channel on Monday: First broadcast in June 2011, it features Justin Rowlatt (who attempted to live a fossil fuel free existence for a year in 2006 as the BBC’s Ethical Man) visiting China to see how it intends to become the world’s first green superpower. In this 22-minute programme, Justin reviews the content of China’s latest 5 year plan, which acknowledges that climate change arises out of development and therefore must be solved along with development see here for link). However, although China has set itself challenging targets for reducing the carbon intensity of its emissions (CO2/GDP), it has no plans to reduce its emissions or to stop burning coal in anything less than 20 years. Such plans will therefore not impress James Hansen or the International Energy Agency. However, China must be given credit for acknowledging that climate change represents an existential threat to its own survival; and therefore deciding to take action: It is very impressive to see how the Chinese see investment in renewable energy as a self-help exercise; and a business opportunity. It must therefore be hoped that, in 2012, the rest of the World will follow their lead. At very least – and despite its ongoing emissions – we should stop using China as an excuse for our own refusal to accept that urgent action must now be taken by everybody… My second item (and definitely my final thought for the year) will be posted tomorrow.

Advertisements

About Rick Altman

Possibly just another 'Climate Cassandra' crying 'Wolf' in cyberspace. However, the moral of the old children's story is that the Wolf eventually turned up!
This entry was posted in Ecological Modernisation, Economics, Environment, James Hansen, Politics, Renewable Energy, Storms of my Grandchildren, Sustainable development and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to First green superpower?

  1. jpgreenword says:

    Being a Canadian, I am ashamed that we use developing countries like China as an excuse to not act to reduce our emissions. China is investing in their green economy. They have plans to transition their transportation to be electrically powered. They are aggressively installing wind and solar power all over their country. Yes, their total emissions are the biggest in the world. But they also have the biggest population in the world, and they manufacture a large percentage of the goods that the rest of the world consumes. Looking simply at annual emissions is an unfair way of placing “blame” or “responsibility” when it comes to controlling emissions. Tons per capita is better (China’s world ranking: 56th – #1 is the worse) . Adding the emissions related to the products a country consumes is even better (China’s world ranking: 50th). Historical emissions per capita (the total amount that has been emitted) is also important since CO2 stays in the atmosphere for a very long time (China’s world ranking: 89th). Don’t get me wrong, they are producing a lot of CO2 and we all need China to “clean up it’s act”. But, so do all the developed countries in the world. And most of us haven’t done our share.

    Like

  2. jpgreenword says:

    By the way, I’m sorry if my first sentence makes it sound like I’m implying that you have used China as an excuse to not reduce emissions! I’ve just re-read your post and my comment and realized that I kinda ranted a little too much 🙂 Sorry!

    Like

    • Rick_Altman says:

      Thank you for your comments. No offence was taken. I became very interested in China as a result of doing an optional module on “The Environmental Politics and Policies of India and China” as part of my MA. Having read Clive Hamilton’s Requiem for a Species and David MacKay’s Sustainable Energy: Without the hot air – I now respond to any criticism sceptics make of China by pointing out that is merely an attempt to shift the blame elsewhere (i.e. the reason for the failure of the UNFCCC process) and, as you have done, by pointing out that the UK, USA and EU are responsible for the vast majority of historical emissions and – therefore – for triggering the climate change we are now beginning to see. I think the scariest thing in James Hansen’s Storms of my Grandchildren is the suggestion that the less developed countries cannot afford to implement the low carbon technology we want them to use and, even if we could convince ourselves of the urgent need to implement it, we cannot afford (at the moment at least) to pay to install it for them either. However, in my humble opinion, to say this is to look through the wrong end of the telescope: We must begin to stop looking at renewable energy as an additional cost and, as they do in China, see it instead as an investment in our common future.

      Like

      • jpgreenword says:

        Regarding your final sentence: According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “Delaying action is a false economy: for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.” Ouch! Additionally, if we were honest about the true cost of fossil fuels, we would take into account all the “externalities” such as the effects of acid rain, the cost of oil spills which are paid for by tax payers, the losses in various industries caused by those oil spills, the costs of health care due to air pollution associated with the burning of fossil fuels, and etc.

        Like

      • Rick_Altman says:

        In recent weeks, I have repeatedly referred to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook Press Release but, thanks for quoting its final sentence so effectively.

        Like

      • jpgreenword says:

        By the way, sorry for the “debate” I seem to have caused in your “About” page…

        Like

      • Rick_Altman says:

        You did not start it and, it seems, the person that did shows no signs of being interested in genuine debate about specific issues. He just likes contradicting reality in general terms by reference to repeatedly-debunked contrarian arguments.

        Like

  3. Pingback: Top UK Christmas Sales | Anthropocene Reality

  4. pendantry says:

    I like Marcus Brigstocke’s response to the invocation of China as an excuse for climate denial.

    ‘China aren’t doing it, so neither am I! Miss! Miss! Johnny isn’t doing his sums, Miss, so neither am I –’ GROW UP. There’s lots that China isn’t doing that’s still worth our while. Democracy. Human rights. Eating Cheddar. To name but three. If your excuse for behaving like a selfish, backward, arrogant twonk is ‘China,’ then please, buy a house near the sea and stay in it when the water comes up over your head.

    Like

  5. Pingback: Polluting Pariah or Green Superpower? « Anthropocene Reality

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s