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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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匿名 | Anonymous



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


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。



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



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'.

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匿名 | Anonymous




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.