U.S. and Chinese energy policy: Chinese carbon caps

While U.S. Republican presidential candidates are vying for who will dismantle the EPA fastest upon winning the election and dismissing air pollution as liberal propaganda, China is considering a cap on greenhouse gases.

China has long surpassed the United States in funding for green technology, has recently instituted a solar feed-in tariff, and, in a further display of reasonableness, is now, at least, discussing a “campaign to limit the absolute amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by certain industries in certain regions,” according to a senior climate official, as reported in the China Daily.

According to Wikipedia in its China Daily entry: “For the most part, the paper portrays the official policy of the PRC.” I don’t pretend to have a deep grasp of Chinese media politics — but the fact that a Chinese official can consider a carbon cap in a public forum without being drummed out of town is revelatory.

Instead, the U.S. has politicians grandstanding about freedom from fluorescent bulbs and the sideshow of solar panels on the White House roof. It appears that the sanest energy advocates in this country’s power structure stem from the military with their recent significant investments in biofuels and energy efficiency.

According to the China Daily article:

Sun Zhen, an official from the National Development and Reform Commission, said the campaign will be a step beyond the country’s current goal of curbing its carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon it releases for each unit of its GDP. He also said the policy will lay the foundation for carbon-trading programs.

Sun’s statement came as one of the earliest indicators that China is looking at limiting the total amount of greenhouse gases that can be released by certain industries in certain parts of the country, not just the amount for each unit of its GDP.

By 2020, China plans to reduce the amount of carbon it emits for each unit of its GDP by 40 to 45 percent below its 2005 level.

Iron and steel companies, cement plants and other businesses that use a lot of energy are likely to be subject to the program. Wealthy regions, such as the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta, are also places where carbon caps may be adopted, he said.

But some experts expressed doubts over whether the plan is feasible, especially at a time when several provinces are struggling to meet an increasing demand for energy. For instance, South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region is experiencing its worst electricity shortage in 20 years, finding that it needs the capacity to produce 4 gigawatts more than it can now.

Rick Perry, one of the leaders in the Republican presidential primary race, claims that climate science is “all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight” in his book Fed Up! Michele Bachmann, another presidential aspirant, believes that global warming is a hoax.

Jim Hurd, Director of the GreenScience Exchange, just returned from meetings in Beijing and Shanghai and had this to say: “China’s government has been starting, over the last year and a half, to make bold moves on cleantech scale-up, starting with the large amounts of Chinese stimulus monies that went to cleantech.” Hurd added, “Seeing the reduction of the Himalayan snow melt may have driven home to the Chinese leadership that the problem of China’s carbon emissions could be hurting the country’s long-term water supply, in addition to the health problems it causes for a Chinese population whose health care system is overtaxed to begin with. China has 20 percent of the world’s people and three percent of the world’s water — and if that three percent is rapidly shrinking, it threatens China’s water supply and the viability of their massive Three Gorges Dam over the long haul.”


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