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“China needs time”

On Thursday, Graciela Chichilnisky proposed that the carbon market is used to avoid a stand-off between the US and China at Copenhagen. Here, Simon Zadek responds.

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Graciela Chichilnisky’s proposal (see “Saving Kyoto”) offers food for thought, and an innovative mechanism of moving money elegantly from the United States to China. My issue, however, is not so much whether the mechanism would work – as whether it addresses the right challenge.

America will not pay for China’s mitigation costs through any route. First, this is because the domestic political optics do not allow for it. Second, because carbon is more expensive to mitigate in the Chinese power sector (at US$40 to $80 per tonne) than for example in Brazil’s rainforests (at US$5 per tonne), and US business is keen to buy cheap.

Fortunately, this may not be such a problem, as China’s issue is not really about the money anyway.

China has already given up on receiving any significant windfall rent through a climate deal. China’s hopes are to sustain economic growth, development and employment growth, and ensure international competitiveness across the value chain – which means protecting dirty jobs for now, while simultaneously investing in clean-tech leadership for the future.

What China needs from the international community, led still by the United States, is: first, everyone else to reduce emissions in order to minimise the climatic threat to their survival; second, no trade protectionism in the guise of climate management; and third, shared technology development and use to prevent technology-based exclusion from international markets or a repeat of today’s costly intellectual property lock-ins, as well as to accelerate global moves on emissions reduction.

Most of all, China needs time to get its act together. It needs to ensure that its development pathway over the next decade is not disrupted by climate-related international agreements or unilateral policy initiatives by their major trading partners. Chichilnisky’s proposal seems, if I have understood it, somewhat of a solution seeking to address a problem whose resolution is both unlikely – for other reasons – and not core to what needs to be done.


Simon Zadek is Managing Partner of AccountAbility

Can carbon trading save Copenhagen? What does China expect from industrialised nations? What do you think? What should be done? Tell us on our forum . . .

NEXT WEEK: Kevin Smith responds to Graciela Chichilnisky. Plus – Simon Zadek sets out his own proposal and chinadialogue authors respond.


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Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

碳关税与碳交易

碳交易真的能拯救气候变化多边机制么?近来碳关税的纠葛已经使各国剑拔弩张了。
发达国家以应对气候变化为由提出对未承诺减排国家的产品征收“碳关税”,将“碳贸易限制措施”直接扩大为关税壁垒,凸显了多边环境协定(MEAs)机制与世界贸易组织(WTO)多边贸易纪律规则的冲突。虽然碳贸易和碳税一直被认为是应对气候变化的重要的可选择的经济手段,但自2005年以来发展起来的碳贸易面临种种“市场失灵”,而征收“碳关税”的实质正是发达国家为抵消因“碳贸易”的开展而使本国企业增加的减排成本。以“碳关税”为代表的碳贸易限制措施虽然明显违背了MEAs和WTO的国际法规则,但其实施程序的困难以及在国际法规则中隐含的合理性,使得中国的应对在微观上不必过分谈虎色变但要重视防患于未然,通过国内碳排放交易制度、国内碳税等制度的建设,应对未来可能发生的此类贸易与环境纠纷。在宏观上,则应超越表象上的贸易和环境纠纷,研究这一问题背后的国际机制乃至大国战略转型,把握未来国家参与国际机制的策略方向。华政李威

Carbon tariff and carbon trading

Would the carbon trading really be able to save the multilateral mechanism of climate change? Recent carbon tariff disputes have made nations at daggers drawn.

Developed countries announced in the name of fighting climate change that they would levy tariffs on products from countries those haven't pledged to reduce emission, which would drive "carbon trading restraints" to tariff barriers. It highlights the conflict between Multilateral Environmental Agreements(MEAs)and the multitrade regulations of WTO. Although carbon trading and carbon tariff are the crucial economic options to cope with the climate change, carbon trading has been suffered increasing "market failures" since 2005. The essence of carbon tariffs is to make up for the cost of reducing emissions due to the expansion of carbon trading in developed countries.

Although carbon traff and carbon restraitions are clear violations of rules in MEAs and WTO, the difficulties of implementing and the implied rationality in the regulations of international law encourage China in the micro level to cope with the problems and pay attention to preventive measures. Through establishing the domestic carbon emission trade system, domestic carbon tax system and so on, China could be able to deal with possible trade and environmental disputes in the future.

In the macro level, it should go beyond the trade and environmental disputes, study the national mechanism and even the transformation strategic of a major economy, and direct the country to participate international mechanism in the future. -- Li Wei, East China University of Political Science

(The comment was translated by Li Huan)

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

碳补偿与森林

该篇建议的是零和对策 (纵然减排迫在眉睫),即继续在国境内排放温室气体,同时支付国外机构去保护森林、或削减工业排放。它同时揭示了前者 (巴西)比后者 (中国)的性价比更高。

在亚马逊,非法采伐是不受制约的,然而也同时削减了这些国家的财富。显然最实际的策略是政府先加强法律监管。其次,新“受保护”的森林没有任何办法避免被焚烧和非法砍伐的命运,非法采伐者收了钱就带着链锯到另一个森林重蹈覆辙。森林是属于土著人的,而不是企业或政府。碳补偿则有可能伤及无辜。款项应该厨房在有条件支付的契约账户内,直至补偿计划被证明达成目标才予以支付。如果相关机构在别处重新开始采伐,那么款项是不予退回的。目前为止,备受争议的森林补偿计划还没有在在经济上发挥作用。

smc翻译

Carbon offsets and forests

The article proposes a zero-sum game (despite the urgent need for a reduction) - continuing to emit greenhouse gas emissions within their own national borders while giving money to entities abroad either to protect forest or to reduce emissions by industry. It also suggests that it is more cost effective to do the former (in Brazil) than the latter (in China).

Illegal logging in Amazonia is rampant - and reduces those countries' wealth. Surely it would be sound economics for their governments to enforce their own laws first. Further, there would be nothing to stop the newly "protected" forest from being burned or logged illegally by others - or for the illegal loggers to simply take the money and their chain saws to another forest to repeat the process. Often, indigenous peoples - not corporations or the government - have rights to the forest. Offsets are likely to dispossess the innocent. The money should be held in an escrow account until the offset project has demonstrably achieved its target - and be non-refundable if it does not or if the entities which stop logging start up elsewhere. So far, forest offset projects have been controversial and not cost-effective.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

有点偏题

在我看来,中国和其他国家一样,在“商务宴请”和养老“开销”上花了很多钱。与此同时,年轻一代或工作、玩乐,或挣扎在失业大军里。两代人均声称,没有足够的钱和能力改变全球经济。

我真的觉得有些人需要自我审视,或看看他们年老的亲属。我仍然认为我们应该消费,但要是负责任的消费。谈到新的必要的经济模式的时候,我们经常听到这样的说法: “必须有赢家和输家”。为什么不能把那些鼓励铺张,不持续消费的人看作失败者,而把持相反态度的人奉为成功人士?我相信这是所有道德高尚的人的希望,但恐怕现在还未到变革的时机。 ——“北京市民”

A bit off topic.

What I see, in China and other countries, is a lot of money spent on 'business banquets' and other 'expenses' by older generations. At the same time the younger generation works and parties, or struggles to find work. Both generations claim the global economy doesn't have enough money or potential to change. I really think that some people need to look at themselves, or their older relatives. I still think we ought to consume, but responsibly. 'There must be winners and losers' I often hear said about the new, necessary economy. How about making the losers those that encourage excessive, non-sustainable consumption paths and the winners all others. I think that's what all moral people hope for, but I don't see the extent of change right now that I think is necessary, I'm afraid. From 'Citizen of Beijing'.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

中国更需要政治智慧

环境危机所表现的不仅是人与自然关系的严重失衡,也内涵着一种人与人之间的极端对立。
环境问题在很大程度上所反映的是政府的执政方式和执政能力问题,需要政治智慧和政治技巧。它要求各级政府必须严格规范自身的发展行为,不能以造成环境不可逆的破坏方式来谋求发展;发展的进程必须以尊重和保障人权的方式来推进,必须以尊重和保障人的发展权、环境权和健康权为前提。
生物学和卫生学的研究成果表明,基因和环境是紧密联系的,人们的生活方式也能改变人们基因的发展内容与方向。
诚然,自然环境的不断发展变化,是动物从低级到高级发展的重大推动力量,也是人类基因发展变化的重大推动力量。但是,环境的污染足可以起遗传基因的改变,是人类基因与环境接触之间的交互作用才导致了大多数疾病的发展,甚至让人类在婴儿期就埋下癌症的隐患。环境污染对人类造成的破坏程度已经远远超出了我们的想象。
总体上看,中国政府的环保工作卓有成效。但是,环境的压力非常之大,也超乎一般的想象。环境治理的力度赶不上环境恶化的速度,一些地方政府的社会公信力已经严重透支,人们社会生存的恐惧感在滋生和蔓延。
想一想,为什么:粗放式的发展方式异常活跃而很难受到根本的制约?为什么体制和制度安排不仅是不完善,而且在某种意义上甚至是极度缺失?难道这还不足以导致我们的环境保护水平长期滞后吗?如何才能找到可持续发展的支点,从而让我们的生存更富有意义,生活更富有情趣,生命更有价值呢?理由在许多方面都可以找到解析,答案在诸多的争议中可以做出选择。但只有我们的各级政府什么时候能从尊重和保障人权的立场出发,来解释和严格规范自己的行政行为,也许,只有到了那个时候,这些问题才能得到更好的解决。而不仅仅是停留在会议文件中的某些战略思考。
人权是人民意志、愿望、利益的具体化、法律化和经常性表现形式。一个和谐的社会,必定是以国家“尊重和保障人权”为灵魂、为引领的社会;必定是人的生存权、发展权和健康权得到充分尊重和保障的社会,它要求各级政府必须通过有效的公共管理将“尊重和保障人权”的宪法原则最终落实到社会公民的个人身上,使一切合法的利益和权利受到保护。因为,一切人权的享有都与环境问题紧密相联。生存权、发展权和健康权,当然也包括政治权利和其他社会、经济和文化权利,都只能在健康的环境中充分地享有。这才是我们各级政府必须坚持可持续发展的根本理由,也是我们政治智慧的重要选择。

豪迈

China Needs to be More Politically Savvy

Environmental crisis is not only the severe imbalance between human beings and nature, but also a contradiction between people. Environmental issues can greatly reflect a government’s ways of ruling as well as their ruling capability, which needs to be politically wise and technical. The government in all levels should use discipline in their development rather than seek progress in irreversibly destruct ways. Development should progress on the basis of respecting and protecting human rights for development, environment, and health.

Biology and health science research suggests that genes and environment are closely linked—people's lifestyle has changed the content and expression of the development of genes.

Admittedly, the ever-changing environment has tremendously improved animals’ progress from lower to higher, as well as greatly changed human genes. However, environmental contamination is severe enough to cause change in genetic heredity, even to cause cancer among babies. Thus, the danger of environmental contamination to human beings has been largely beyond our imagination.

As a whole, the Chinese government’s environmental protection efforts have been effective. Nevertheless, the pressure of environmental problems is also beyond their imagination. Since their efforts to improve the environmental cannot keep up with the scale of pollution, the capacity of some local governments has been severely strained, and fear emerges and spreads through the public.

Why are institutions and institutional arrangements are not only imperfect, but in a sense, even completely lacking. Could it be that this is not enough to explain why our level of environmental protection has always lagged? How can I find the fulcrum of sustainable development that yields more meaningful, appealing and valuable life? The resolution can be found in many fields; the answers lie within numerous controversial options. However, only when all levels of government respect and protect human rights and strictly regulate its own administrative behavior, perhaps, only at that time, can these problems can be resolved, rather than stagnating in a strategic conference document.

Human rights are the people’s will, wishes and interest expressed legally and concretely. In a harmonious society, the state must have “respect and protect human rights” as its soul, as its societal vision. To ensure right to life, development, and health are fully respected and guaranteed requires all levels of government to approve effective public administration that implements the law of “respect and protect human rights” in individuals so that all legitimate interests and rights are protected, because all forms of human rights are closely connected to environmental issues. The rights to life, development and health, including societal, economic and cultural rights, can only be enjoyed in a health environment. This is the fundamental reason why all levels of our government must chose to adhere to the principle of sustainable development.