Defending China in Copenhagen and green tech generally


by Sunny
29th December, 2009 at 10:12 am    

I got a bit annoyed with the ‘it’s all China’s fault‘ rhetoric that came out of the Copenhagen failure for various reasons. It turns out I wasn’t alone, and blogger Madam Miaow posted a message on CIF in response to such an article but had it curiously censored.
Anyway, she says:

The US and the rich nations use up almost all the carbon allowance in the atmosphere over the past 160 years, the US dithers over ten years of Bush, they refuse to ratify Kyoto, the Danish summit chair has to resign when she’s caught fast-tracking the rich nations’ deal, the West fail in their Kyoto pledges, Canada rips up its Kyoto deal and proceeds with exploiting its huge reserves of dirty oil, the US will only reduce emissions by 4% against the 1990 base year and not the 17% you describe as “serious cuts”, while China makes real strides in green technology, and so on.

But it is all China’s fault.

What other country has an entire city using solar powered appliances? Who else has planted such huge tracts of forest while loggers tear down the rest? China aims for 15% of its energy from renewables, it has revolutionised wind-turbines, makes a key component of electric car batteries, and so on. We in the UK can’t even meet our Kyoto promise.

This is spot on and makes the two points I wanted to. Firstly, the US and European stance has been completely hypocritical and China became a whipping boy for their failure.

Secondly, and more importantly, China knows there is serious money to be made from Green technology, renewable energy and ways to reduce pollution. That way lies the real technical innovation of the future. In fact all the big powerhouses from Asia are pouring money into R&D in this area. Meanwhile we’re held back by right-whingers who are still peddling conspiracy theory about global warming from Russia and Saudi Arabia. Amazing. When we fall way back in technical innovation in 20 years time then these people will realise their folly.


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: China,Current affairs,Economy,Environmentalism






34 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. pickles

    Blog post:: Defending China in Copenhagen and green tech generally http://bit.ly/4pelp3


  2. House Of Twits

    RT @pickledpolitics Blog post:: Defending China in Copenhagen and green tech generally http://bit.ly/4pelp3


  3. Jim

    Pickled Politics » Defending China in Copenhagen and green tech … http://bit.ly/54d3xP


  4. Ulli Hoppe

    RT @altenergyjobs: Pickled Politics » Defending China in Copenhagen and green tech … http://bit.ly/54d3xP


  5. Jack Cryer

    Pickled Politics » Defending China in Copenhagen and green tech …: Secondly, and more importantly, China know.. http://bit.ly/6TYTDz


  6. Yancey Grantham

    Blog| Pickled Politics » Defending China in Copenhagen and green tech …: I got a bit annoyed with the 'it's all … http://bit.ly/5K1yQY




  1. halima — on 29th December, 2009 at 10:40 am  

    Copenhagen has been devestatingly disappointing all round – and it just goes to show that politics yet again has got in the way of preserving the most precious commodity we all share in common: our globe.

    I was reading the link below as this PP link went up. It seems everyone is blaming someone else. No surprises.

    http://www.project-syndicate.org/

    Jeffery Sachs isn’t of course an innocent voice, but just adds some balance. I don’t agree with him, but it seems everyone is looking for a whipping boy.

    Frankly I think we should all be ashamed.

    Where to go now, it seems no-one really knows.

  2. Guido Fawkes — on 29th December, 2009 at 10:59 am  

    What a load of tosh. Half of China’s “green” spend is on railways, not exactly emission free when the power source is coal.

    Private funds in the U.S. and Europe are pouring billions into green technology on a scale that dwarfs China.

    People like our old friends the Carlyle Group, Goldman Sachs (designers of the Cap & Trade market) and a host of hedge funds intend to engorge their bonuses out of the green game.

    As for right-wingers holding innovation back, even Old Holborn profits from wind farms and little old me invests in green tech. Just coz we think AGW is hyped up snake-oil don’t mean we ain’t going to get into the game. Miss out on a chance to make a buck? No way.

  3. Naadir Jeewa — on 29th December, 2009 at 11:46 am  

    Though I don’t have sources on hand right now, what was interesting was that it seemed India was being far more obstructive in the run up to COP15 than China was.

  4. Madam Miaow — on 29th December, 2009 at 12:15 pm  

    Cheers, Sunny.

    Something else of interest, although China is using frightening amounts of coal, their clean coal technology means that 85% of the carbon is captured before being emitted. They’ve apparently built over 200 of these coal-powered stations while the UK has talked about it but produced none.

    The aim is for 100% capture.

  5. Kulvinder — on 29th December, 2009 at 12:19 pm  

    What a load of tosh.

    Why? I’m unsure how your responce relates to the original post but i completely agree with Sunny that China was unfairly singled out for the failure at Copenhagen. That isn’t to say China isn’t without blame in the entire matter, every country there from the US to India played their little games ever so well, but pointing to China as being the singular cause of failure is idiotic.

    And yes they do support ‘green’ technology and yes part of that is focused on railways, but the ‘issue’ isn’t their use of coal rather its the comparative lack of use of clean coal technology (and in keeping with the discussion) the comparative lack of ccs.

    The attacks on global warming scientists are crossing the line into nutjob conspiracy theories; if you want to believe there is a vast conspiracy of scientists who (for whatever reason) suggest something that isn’t happening is happening, well go ahead, but really you’re no better than those who deny aids; or if you want to be pedantic about words those that suggest aids was hyped up snake-oil and all people needed was beetroot.

    Personally im agnostic on the issue, if further data in 20 years time indicates that the consensus of this time was incorrect, well so be it, there was open debate and a change of opinion, fine by me. But im not under the allusion that there are legions of scientists the world over cackling at how they’ve fooled the planet nor do i pick and choose when and where i disagree with the (overwhelming) scientific consensus.

    Whats irritating is that tendency towards conspiracy nut jobs means the real criticism that should be made about green technology often gets ignored. Wind farms, solar and other such technology require baseload backups for those moments when there isn’t any wind, that base load capacity is kept, ineffeciently, on standby while everyone looks at the windfarms in admiration.

    If britain suddenly developed massive numbers of windfarms we’d need more nuclear, coal or gas powerstations to provide highbase load backup.

  6. Random Guy — on 29th December, 2009 at 12:38 pm  

    Um, are we not forgetting that the main issue is Developed Vs. Developing Nations?

  7. halima — on 29th December, 2009 at 1:09 pm  

    “Um, are we not forgetting that the main issue is Developed Vs. Developing Nations?”

    No, I think that’s what people assumed before going into the negotiations, but what emerged are factions and fractures – where in fact lots of small developing countries were sidelined.

    That’s why I think the outcome is more devastating than climate – the implication goes beyond climate but raises fundamental questions about global governance, the UN structure and the leadership responsibilities of powerful bilaterals towards both small/large developed/developing countries.

    A terrible outcome for international cooperation as we go into 2010.

  8. Random Guy — on 29th December, 2009 at 1:25 pm  

    But is China not the only hope of the Developing World for greater representation? Time and time again it has been proven that in terms of International cooperation, the Developed World has only ever looked out for itself first over the last 20 to 30 years.

  9. marvin — on 29th December, 2009 at 1:27 pm  

    Meanwhile we’re held back by right-whingers

    Who exactly in this country do you think will be driving green technology, toothless deadlocked hippies screaming about the end of the world, or capitalist entrepreneurs?

    Some right wingers are rightly sceptical about Reds who have switched to Greens. Especially when they start talking about ‘limiting free speech’ and putting ‘deniers’ in prison, as a green commenter here was suggesting, or wanting a ‘war-like government’ to control everything.

  10. Sunny — on 29th December, 2009 at 1:47 pm  

    Half of China’s “green” spend is on railways, not exactly emission free when the power source is coal.

    yes but railways are still better for the environment compared to alternatives – and the power source can be switched. Really, do you like making fatuous arguments Guido?

    and a host of hedge funds intend to engorge their bonuses out of the green game.

    I think cap and trade is bullshit. I’m glad it’s going down the pan.

  11. Sean — on 29th December, 2009 at 2:31 pm  

    You are incredibly naive to think that the Chinese give a damn. Economic development and furthering a shift in international politics is what they care about. Why do you think that the deliberately snubbed Obama and played African countries like a piano?

  12. Kulvinder — on 29th December, 2009 at 2:57 pm  

    Economic development and furthering a shift in international politics is what they care about.

    Unlike whom exactly?

    If you want to say the Chinese are as bad as the British/French/Germans/Indians/Americans/Japanese go ahead; i agree moronic nationalist politics came into play from all sides and everyone in that summit was a cynic.

    But the Chinese have been set up as scapegoats and the arguments being used by commentators online to ‘support’ their arguments (admitedly on other sites not this one) are turning into little more than bigotry.

    But hey if everyone else is so pure in their intentions they’re still welcome to hold themselves accountable to whatever reductions they were advocating. If america wants to ‘lead the world’ (a phrase second only in cringeworthyness to ‘special relationship’) its free to set an example and reduce its 1990 levels by 40% (or whatever the previous agreements said).

    The fact it doesn’t is because its own economic development is foremost in its mind.

  13. halima — on 29th December, 2009 at 2:59 pm  

    Random Guy

    “But is China not the only hope of the Developing World for greater representation? ”

    Yes, and that’s why it’s a greater tragedy for the world – the G77 and China no longer seem coherent, and I think we have to wait and see what the longer-term fall out will be. China indeed has a lot of credibility in the eyes of the developing world, so what Copenhagen means for China’s position vis-a-vis other developing countries, well,perhaps we wait and see.

  14. MaidMarian — on 29th December, 2009 at 3:45 pm  

    Come off it Sunny. The whole conference was a desperate mess and your latent anti-Americanism is unbecoming. Of course the desperation spilled over into poor management, in particular the ‘sub-committee’ of big countries getting together and trying to present the smaller countries with a fait accompli. That however was far from the only reason for failure.

    I believe that Western politicians are right (for a change) in their view of Copenhagen, and the blame apportioned to China is wholly merited. The Chinese had a plan to sabotage the conference, and it implemented it perfectly.

    First it greenwashed itself, with renewable energy and conservation projects – all of course easy to implement in a country without democracy. This is a narrative that many keyboard warriors have unquestioningly been suckered by. China is an environmental disaster and the little the government’s doing about that is completely overshadowed by the environmental devastation being wrought.

    Second, it announced that it would be making vague reductions “of some kind”. Again, this was regarded widely as a positive step.

    Then, it said that the reductions would comprise a decrease in “carbon intensity.” Now I am something of a climate change sceptic, but even I take the view that carbon intensity reductions are a fake measurement that would mean in reality that China could pretty much just go on pumping out emissions on a business as usual basis.

    Then, at the conference itself, its strategy was to frustrate any kind of agreement that contained any allusion to binding targets. Of course it was successful.

    It is certainly fair to say that the US Senate was hardly helpful at Copenhagen, and there is an entirely reasonable argument that the West’s promises are not as big as they could or should be. Even so, given that for years the US has been nowhere on this issue, its pledge of 17% reductions should, by any objective gauge, be seen as significant progress.

    I suspect that many developing countries actually agree with the West in that they want a binding agreement (voters are another matter), and the outline is clear: the West must do the most to decrease emissions however the rest of the world has to make an effort as well, and the West probably should provide some funding for the developing world’s efforts.

    My reading of Copenhagen was that it was surprising just how isolated China was with little support. It almost looked like the US at Kyoto! And at Kyoto, the rest of the world was right to go on without the US, even at the price of a much weakened treaty. The rest of the world should have left China at Copenhagen.

    I do accept that there is an argument to be had about the West outsourcing some of its emissions to China. It is however for the Chinese government to regulate environmental standards in its country. The same applies to India too.

    On a separate point here Sunny, what about Democracy? Many countries went to the conference with at least some support from their electorates, whereas China, being a dictatorship, did not. I understand that the vast majority of people there know little of what goes on in their name. So there is a class between democratic and non-democratic built in. And this is before we get to questions about whether ‘developing countries’ are actually a united block with coherent interest. I believe that that left-wing darling Chavez and his oil dependent economy were not big on a Copenhagen deal.

  15. Sean — on 29th December, 2009 at 3:55 pm  

    Kulvinder,

    The Chinese have regularly used and abused the international system in order to get their way. What other nation after having one of their strategic investments blocked (in Australia) goes ahead and arrests a person on trumped up charges? (see the Stern Hu case).

    What other nation plays one nation off against the other to the callous extent that China does? Look at how they use their influence unjustly in regards to Burma, Iran and the Sudan.

    The Chinese leadership is exceptionally strategic and want to throw their weight around. They will deliberately snub Obama so he will lose face. They will intervene in Africa to keep dictatorships in place to secure natural resources. They will demand technology transfer as part of any investment programme into their country. They demand that the west is quiet on Tibet or human rights abuses or inward investment is halted.

    We are not perfect but to be silent on China or to dismiss their acts is naive. Worse – it is sanctioning a regime that has committed criminal and illiberal acts.

  16. MaidMarian — on 29th December, 2009 at 3:57 pm  

    Actually, Sunny – another thing on Green technology.

    What is odd is how little bang for the buck countries have been able to get for thier R & D. Germany has huge windfarms (at the expense of several bird sanctuaries on the Polish border) but still has not closed any conventional power stations. China builds dams which are hardly environmentally neutral.

    The West at least is moving in broadly the right direction. It often amazes me how little the enviro groups take the argument up with Russia which is a massive polluter. But then that doesn’t fit the ‘US is evil’ narrative does it?

  17. lfc4life — on 29th December, 2009 at 5:10 pm  

    China is a rapidly developing country, to criticize it while the likes of US and Britain are already developed is hypocritical. It seems the western powers are more concerned with having complete control on future development and economic power than any genuine concern for the environment!

  18. Refresh — on 29th December, 2009 at 5:11 pm  

    One of the biggest regrets over climate change has to be the failure to strangle at birth, the jiggery-pokery that is cap & trade. The invention of yet another ‘market’ to protect the existing economic structures.

    Bush’s vehement opposition to Kyoto (which was akin to the US’ determination to go for bilateral agreements rather than sign up to the ICC) was based in their longterm strategy of maintaining and enhancing US global economic reach. Bush was no fool when he pushed the idea of ‘technological solutions’ to global warming.

    Obama, tragically, has gone for the same option. The Four Percent offer was a slap in the face especially when he went out of his way to give China a good kicking the moment he landed. There are apologetics rolling around which tell us it was only an opening gambit. Why couldn’t the form of inspections regime (supposedly US’ issue with China) been something that could have been developed going forward?

    Sadly, for a man who gave so much hope to the global community, Obama seems to have delivered the same results at Copenhagen as he did in Oslo when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

    As for China, I am with Sunny. China will deliver the technology and products needed, whilst the US (in particular) will be expending its efforts in re-jigging the WTO and any other organisation that it can control to monetise intellectual property.

    China will be doing it whilst US & co. will be looking to control it.

  19. Kulvinder — on 29th December, 2009 at 5:19 pm  

    What other nation after having one of their strategic investments blocked (in Australia) goes ahead and arrests a person on trumped up charges? (see the Stern Hu case).

    I’m not sure what any of this has to do with the failure of the summit, and is pretty much delving into what i mentioned above; bringing up every other issue to throw at the Chinese. But a substantial rationale for the iraq war in my opinion (and that of greenspan) was oil; as such saying china is the most hawkish in terms of energy security is a little odd.

    We are not perfect but to be silent on China or to dismiss their acts is naive. Worse – it is sanctioning a regime that has committed criminal and illiberal acts.

    Noone said we were perfect or that the strategy adopted by China was helpful. What we have said is they weren’t the singular cause of failure and every other nation in the negotiation was as cynical as they were.

    As for the ‘criminal and illiberal’ acts; no china isn’t a democracy, yes they’ve comitted human rights abuses, no i didn’t agree with the execution of Akmal Shaikh, yes executing him was obscene – but then i view any use of the death penalty regardless of whether its america, nigeria, india or iran as being uncivilised. Yes the chinese government oppresses the tibetans, yes i wish china was a democracy etc etc etc etc

    none of that has anything to do with the climate change summit, and you don’t hear the chinese juxtaposing the iraq war, abu ghraib and climate change in order to make a point. Its just turning into ‘red terror/yellow peril’ nonesense.

  20. Sunny — on 29th December, 2009 at 5:20 pm  

    It often amazes me how little the enviro groups take the argument up with Russia which is a massive polluter. But then that doesn’t fit the ‘US is evil’ narrative does it?

    Erm, enviro groups have been criticising the likes of Russia for its failure to obey international standards on environment regulation for years!

    I can imagine you’re not a regular receiver of Greenpeace literature, but please don’t make me dig out the press releases and embarrass you for raising a silly strawman MM.

    and your latent anti-Americanism is unbecoming

    One day I’m criticised for being uncritical of Obama, the next day I’m criticised for being anti-American. Really?

    It is certainly fair to say that the US Senate was hardly helpful at Copenhagen, and there is an entirely reasonable argument that the West’s promises are not as big as they could or should be. Even so, given that for years the US has been nowhere on this issue, its pledge of 17% reductions should, by any objective gauge, be seen as significant progress.

    So you accept the main points made by myself and others. I just think 17% is not enough. And most of that nominal figure comes from outsourcing Co2 to developing countries.

    The same applies to India too.

    I agree.

  21. steve wilson — on 29th December, 2009 at 6:25 pm  

    Hey

    go easy on the Chinese

    they’re too busy executing mentally ill people

    the cunts

  22. MaidMarian — on 29th December, 2009 at 6:41 pm  

    Kulvinder – ‘you don’t hear the chinese juxtaposing the iraq war, abu ghraib and climate change in order to make a point.’

    Oh no – they have the useful idiots in the Western media to do that by proxy.

    Sunny – Thank you for your reply.

    My view is that the green NGOs acted shamefully in Copenhagen and that their latent anti-American bent blinded them. Obama took a brave stance – I am no Obama fan, but I applaud him for his efforts in Copenhagen. Sod China doing everything it can to avoid the word ‘target.’ Let’s just bash the US. Greenpeace singled out the US in a way that was disgraceful and I for one believe that some senior Greenpeace staff should resign in shame. Who knows, some in poor countries may have benefited from a weak deal, but no – there is a chance for NGOs to grind their anti-US axe.

    I agree that I would like to see all countries do more, but it is for the Chinese and others to regulate in the environmental interest. The idea that China is some heroic, green figure would be laughable were it not common currency.

  23. kELvi — on 29th December, 2009 at 7:27 pm  

    …china’s [their] clean coal technology means that 85% of the carbon is captured before being emitted. There is no clean coal technology at present anywhere in the world. I have no idea why people don’t understand the difference between per capita emissions and aggregate emissions. The developed world is a problem becoz of the former and the “developing” world mainly China and to a lesser extent India is a problem becoz of the latter, and the US is a problem becoz of both. China by itself can do nothing about aggregate emissions unless Americans stop shopping this season, insist on Made in USA merchandise rather than Made in China crap, and US CEOs stop outsourcing manufacturing and shafting their workforce. It would also help if Obama didn’t behave like a jellyfish in front of China. India and China have a valid point – if our people must become richer and live better we must consume more energy and be allowed o pollute more. But given the mess that is China countryside – a deep retching mess that will silence you http://www.chinahush.com/2009/10/21/amazing-pictures-pollution-in-china/

  24. Naadir Jeewa — on 30th December, 2009 at 2:50 am  

    I’m guessing the Obama administration haven’t had much time to sort out the mess that the US was/is in over AGW to reach a stage where it can modify the process to achieve better outcomes.

    It’s been suggested for a number of years, well before Moises Naim’s recent “minilateralism” proposal, that the US and China should make their own agreements whilst the rest of us take a more aggressive route (see The Science and Politics of Global Climate Change for example.

    My take on the NGOs were that they were politically incompetent and counterproductive. I’m also slightly jealous seeing large numbers of deep green students with no real perspective on AGW get passes to COP15.

    Also, if anyone’s interested in the differences between democracies and non-democracies negotiating in treaties, I suggest looking at Robert Putnam’s Diplomacy and domestic politics: the logic of two-level games

  25. Madam Miaow — on 30th December, 2009 at 9:08 am  

    kElvi: “There is no clean coal technology at present anywhere in the world.”

    Not according to the NY Times, that well-known propaganda organ of the fiendish Chinese:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/11/world/asia/11coal.html

    Australia and China projects:
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/australia-funds-china-clean-coal/story-e6frg9df-1111116053839

    The argument isn’t about China being perfect. It’s about balanced reporting on the serious issue of how we all clean up our act. Criticism where criticism is due but credit where that’s due also.

  26. MaidMarian — on 30th December, 2009 at 3:57 pm  

    Madam Miaow – Australia is a very interesting example. Many parts of Australia need lots more water and in response the country has developed very effective desalination. The problem is that deslination is a very energy intensive process – hence the need to burn coal. It is very likely that China will run into this problem, if it has not done so already.

    John Howard was not happy with Kyoto in part because it meant a choice for some of his voters between drinking water or not.

    You are correct that this is not about China being prefect or not. What it is about is this bizarre idea that seems to be taking hold that China is somehow a misunderstood green champion.

  27. KJB — on 31st December, 2009 at 1:53 am  

    Whats irritating is that tendency towards conspiracy nut jobs means the real criticism that should be made about green technology often gets ignored. Wind farms, solar and other such technology require baseload backups for those moments when there isn’t any wind, that base load capacity is kept, ineffeciently, on standby while everyone looks at the windfarms in admiration.

    Thank God SOMEONE is saying this.

    Who exactly in this country do you think will be driving green technology, toothless deadlocked hippies screaming about the end of the world, or capitalist entrepreneurs?

    Um, do you read Private Eye, marvin? If not, you might want to start – and look at their extensive coverage of greenwashing by many big corporations.

  28. kELvi — on 1st January, 2010 at 12:28 am  

    Madam Miaow,

    You are talking about using existing technologies such as supercritical generators and electrostatic precipitators. The term clean coal is a loosely used imprecise one. The currently available coal burning technologies generate pollutants one way or the other. Even after capturing particulate emissions there is the question of how to dispose them. Going further is carbon sequestration, which is still a pie in the sky. Check out the US DOE website here, http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/index.html, rather than poorly researched articles in the popular press. Large swathes of the US population imagines that it has licked the problem of dirty power by outsourcing manufacturing to China. Sadly no one considers total output which shows no sign of declining. And wait till China begins to consume for itself at the rate of the US, and there will be nothing left on earth.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.