Jiangxi in eastern China said this week that it would seek government approval to set up a local emissions trading platform, making it the latest region to bid for a stake in a potentially lucrative Chinese carbon credit market.
“The government talks about carbon trading and everyone is trying to consolidate their position in their own provinces just in case something new comes up and they will be the ones chosen,” said Allan Zhang, head of sustainable business solutions with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Beijing.
The economic powerhouse of Guangdong in southeast China revealed earlier this month that it would seek Beijing’s approval to include a carbon trading platform in its “five-year plan” for the 2011-2015 period, but it did not provide any further details.
The heavily populated Sichuan in the southwest is also considering a bill to establish a provincial emissions trading scheme in the coming five years.
Hebei, China’s biggest steel producing region, is also seeking approval for a province-wide emissions trading scheme, the local government said earlier this month.
Zhang said there was currently a “tug of war” between central and local governments, with the latter trying to position themselves ahead of the likely introduction of mandatory regional carbon intensity targets in the next five years.
Despite significant recent public concern and media attention to the environmental impacts of food, few studies in the United States have systematically compared the life-cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with food production against long-distance distribution, aka “food-miles.” We find that although food is transported long distances in general (1640 km delivery and 6760 km life-cycle supply chain on average) the GHG emissions associated with food are dominated by the production phase, contributing 83% of the average U.S. household’s 8.1 t CO2e/yr footprint for food consumption
Transportation as a whole represents only 11% of life-cycle GHG emissions, and final delivery from producer to retail contributes only 4%. Different food groups exhibit a large range in GHG-intensity; on average, red meat is around 150% more GHG-intensive than chicken or fish. Thus, we suggest that dietary shift can be a more effective means of lowering an average household’s food-related climate footprint than “buying local.”
Shifting less than one day per week’s worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food.
For years, China was seen as a major obstacle to global efforts to combat climate change because of its refusal to reduce emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.
Now, for some, the concern is not that China is moving too slowly but that it is rushing ahead so fast that clean-energy companies in the West will be left in the dust.
Demands on China for verifiable monitoring of emissions have been a long-running source of tension in climate negotiations. They helped to sour the mood at the United Nations climate meeting in Copenhagen a year ago, which broke up in acrimony after poorer countries balked at accepting limits on their emissions.
Heading into 2011, however, there were some surprising signs of renewed movement in efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions.
A United Nations climate meeting in December in Mexico pleased many environmentalists by putting global talks back on track. And this month, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research group, reported that investors had injected a record $243 billion into cleaner sources of energy in 2010 as the rising price of oil gave a lift to the prospects for renewable and low-carbon alternatives.
With the gloomy atmosphere dissipating, organizers at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said this week that they expected business leaders were ready to pay attention again to climate issues.
The meeting in Mexico showed an “enhanced spirit of cooperation” on cutting emissions, said Caio Koch-Weser, who leads sustainability initiatives for the forum and is vice chairman of the Deutsche Bank Group. And the clean-energy sector “has never been more dynamic than it is today,” he said.
But along with such optimism, there is also mounting anxiety about which countries “” and whose companies “” will benefit from the clean-energy boom. As financially struggling governments in Europe and the United States trim support for clean-energy development, emerging countries, led by China, have been pouring state resources into the sector.
Minnesota moved up a notch in U.S. wind power rankings last year, increasing its wind energy production capacity 22 percent.
Minnesota passed the state of Washington in 2010, and now ranks fourth in the nation in wind power production.
Elizabeth Salerno with the American Wind Energy Association said Minnesota’s wind power industry shows no signs of slowing down this year.
“There’s a handful of projects under construction totaling over 450 megawatts for the state,” Salerno said. “That does suggest a high level of activity in the state. Which means a lot of construction jobs and all the jobs associated with putting these projects in the ground.”
Government stimulus programs benefiting clean energy projects including solar and wind power may peak this year, then decline in 2012 and 2013, the World Economic Forum said in a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
About $67 billion of funds will be channeled to low-carbon energy this year from $190 billion pledged to the industry by world governments since the start of 2009, the groups said today in a study released in Davos, Switzerland. Just over half that amount will follow next year, and about a fifth in 2013.
In 2010, about $59 billion was paid out, study showed. That helped spur a record $243 billion of investments in renewable power, said New Energy Finance Chief Executive Officer Michael Liebreich. The WilderHill New Energy Index of 100 companies developing low-carbon technologies slid 15 percent last year.
“It is scary to think what might have happened to clean energy equipment providers’ valuations had the stimulus funds not arrived,” Liebreich said in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The stimulus has played an important part in maintaining the momentum of the sector.”
Stimulus spending may total $34.3 billion next year and $13.3 billion in 2013, the report showed.
Liebreich said that while there is a “risk” of the clean energy going into a slump as stimulus spending diminishes next year and in 2013, “that is not our central assumption.”
Democratic senators from the California, Oregon and Washington state launched a new drive Tuesday to ban drilling off the Pacific coast but face long odds of getting the bill past the House’s new Republican majority, especially at a time of high gasoline prices.
The bill’s sponsors cited the economic and environmental risks of offshore drilling highlighted by last year’s Gulf of Mexico spill. “One of the lessons learned from the disastrous BP oil spill is that without a fundamental transformation of the oil industry, another spill is possible, even likely,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), one of the sponsors.
A long-standing congressional ban on new Pacific offshore oil drilling expired in late 2008 as high gasoline prices became a hot political issue. Currently, the Pacific Coast is only protected by President Obama’s pledge that there will be no new offshore drilling, Cantwell said. The legislation, she said, would enact a permanent moratorium into law that could not be overturned at the whim of a future administration.