Friday, March 26, 2010

China is leader in renewable energy

Remember Copenhagen? China was blamed by many for the failure of the summit. It is also the largest emitter of CO2 (not per capita though). Now it is also the leader in renewable energy investment. This is not a widely known fact, and not publicised widely. The BBC has the story here.

China is still a developing country under the rules of the Kyoto protocol, the largest emitter of CO2 and now the leader on renewables. A truly bizzare situtation. What follows for climate policy? Perhaps that developed countries will have to play catch up?


Andrew Beutmueller said...

that is good news, of course when China does anything it is on a huge scale by virtue of its inherent mass - the country also kills about 10 thousand coal miners every year to feed its pulverized coal habit; the country gets nearly 70 percent of its power from coal, and is unlikely to move to any other sources of power since there is enough coal to last them another century - so not to be a spoilsport but I think the most important role China will play in renewable energy is siphoning off European Green manufacturing jobs - FMI

Werner Krauss said...

here a New York Times article about the complementary brain drain from the US to China; R&D happens in China, due to the need for electricity:

Hans von Storch said...

I am wondering why there is little mentioning of the 1-child policy in China and its climatic implications. This policy, I understand, has limited the population China by about 300 - 400 million people, i.e, a population larger than that of the European Union (right?). That is China has constrained its possible emissions by an amount corresponding to more than that of Europe or twice that of the US. In a sustainable way; the children, which have not been born will have no own children.
Thus, if some people consider climate change the worst threat to civilization and humankind, why do we not hear their applause for this Chinese measure? I think it was the most effective measure in limiting emission growth.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Apparently the Chinese negotiators try to advance this argument in climate change negotiations, with reference to India's unbridled population growth. So far, this has not been successful. This dampens the prospect of China joining any post-Kyoto treaty.

isaacschumann said...


I believe the one child policy has also resulted in about 20 million unmarried men with little chance of finding a spouse. The gender ratio in China is severely skewed as a disproportionate amount of girls are aborted in the effort to produce a son.

We are in somewhat of a paradox; as the birth rate greatly declines with growing wealth and security, this in turn leads to higher emissions per ca pita.

IMHO we should concentrate on making this quality of life less energy and resource intensive. But I think there is no easy answer to this. 3-400 million less people is surely a positive thing for the environment, i think the world would have been better off with 20 million extra women;) 20 million sexually frustrated young men will not end well.

The Economist has an excellent story on this topic in one of their recent issues, its a very good read.

Werner Krauss said...

@ Hans
you write:
"Thus, if some people consider climate change the worst threat to civilization and humankind, why do we not hear their applause for this Chinese measure?"

This is a strange question. Why did YOU not mention it earlier? Or don't you consider climate change as a threat anymore? (maybe not the worst one, but a serious one, as I remember from your earlier contributions). So why didn't we hear YOUR applause for this measure before? Or do you just want to provoke or bully the alarmists and fish for some skeptical compliments? In this case, we should ask the blog moderator if this is politically correct according to klimazwiebel rules -:)

ghost said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Werner Krauss said...

Contraception as emission reduction. It comes as no surprise that James 'Gaia' Lovelock likes the idea:

One child politics of course creates some moral dilemmas. I guess the term 'neo-malthusian' sums it up neatly. Climate change is also a feminist issue, as the editor of 'spiked' (just googled it, don't know this e-journal) points out:

"An eco-feminist writing in the UK Guardian said, with an almost audible sigh of relief, that there are ‘300 to 400million fewer people on the planet’ as a result of China’s one-child policy. A feminist praising authoritarian control over women’s reproductive lives? You couldn’t make it up."

Read all of this article here:

Reiner Grundmann said...

This thread is going OT fast. It should be about technological innovation really. Will open a separate Neo-Malthusian thread now.

Hans von Storch said...

Werner / 8 - Werner, the 1-child policy is certainly an efficient climate policy measure, but this measure has various other dimensions, and many people have reservations because of these other reasons. However, my argument goes, if climate change is THE one and absolutely dominant issue, then we should give it priority over the other reasons and consider adopting such policies on a grander scale.
I consider climate change a serious issue, but I have my doubts if it is really the ONE and absolutely dominant one.

Marco said...

@Hans von Storch:
It may be educational if you list the issues that you consider more important than climate change, and then how population growth would positively/negatively affect that issue. I think you will find quite a few issues where population growth is involved in making the issue more problematic.

Werner Krauss said...

@ Hans 10

"then we (...) should consider adopting such policies on a grander scale".

Who is "we"? Who has the power (and the right) to implement such policies for example in India, Brazil or West Africa? For pretty good reasons, "we" (for example, you and I) cannot argue for such Malthusian politics. It's a purely hypothetical (and thus still polemical) argument.

to reiner #9
what does OT stand for? Other Things? Odd Topics?

Reiner Grundmann said...

Sorry, OT=Off topic. Please post your population arguments on the Neo-Malthusian thread. I really would like to see some engagement with China's technology/innovation policy here.
BTW: CHina was/is quite successful in getting CDM money (clean development mechanism). At the same time, it could be technology leader in some areas, soon.

Tobias W said...

#8 Werner:

Spiked-online used to be "LM Magazine" before they were sued out of business. "LM" standing for Living Marxism, and is fócused on a Humanist perspective to society. I was rather chocked when I found out they were marxists, as I had been reading the magazine for about a year and basically always agreed with what they were saying. Maybe I'm a closet marxist (or, they're closet libertarians)?


Actually the chinese one-child policy is rather a stupid way to go - even withstanding the disgusting ethical implications of it - as the population trend is falling basically all over the world, without any political thought behind it. China will be left with an elderly population sustained by an ever-deminishing young generation. This is not very good economics, but it's the "green" idea of heaven I suppose...