Saturday, April 09, 2016

China and Clean Energy.


                                               Comments due April 18, 2016

The United States and China are the world's largest carbon emitters , so the 2014 agreement by U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping to reduce their countries' greenhouse gas emissions represented a major shift in momentum for addressing the effects of climate change.
Both countries committed to substantial emissions-reduction efforts over the next 10 to 15 years, with the understanding that they would continue to grow more ambitious with their efforts in the future. The pledges were fundamental to each country's national commitments for the Paris Agreement, adopted during the United Nations' 2015 climate conference and awaiting signatures this month at the United Nations inNew York City. 
Once a minimum of 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of total global greenhouse gases sign on, the agreement will come into effect. Already 100 countries are expected to attend the U.N. meeting on Earth Day this April 22. 
An energy explosion
While China vowed to put a peak on its growing carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2030, a new report from the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the London School of Economics and Political Science argues that the past year brought a changing economic and energy landscape. This is because China's rapid growth, which consumed tremendous amounts of energy and produced record-setting emissions, is slowing. 
China's economic model over the past few decades — like that of many other developing countries — was based on heavy investment in construction and related industries, such as steel and cement, in order to expand the nation's infrastructure. Such industries are energy-intensive and in China relied heavily on coal, which produces large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions . 
Now that much of China's infrastructure build-out is slowing, the demand for steel, cement and other building materials is decreasing, while at the same time China is expanding energy investments in hydroelectric, nuclear, wind and solar power. 
In fact, the increase in China's renewable energy generation is expected be larger than energy-investment increases in the European Union, the United States and Japan combined, according to the 2013 World Energy Outlook from the International Energy Agency (IEA). 
These promising shifts in energy investment are not unique to China. In the United States, the Energy Information Administration suggests that in the coming year, more new solar electricity-generating capacity will come online than natural gas, wind or petroleum combined.
Industries shifting while governments hesitate
Industries are making the transition even faster than government: American businesses made deals to acquire 3.4 gigawatts of renewable energy in 2015, nearly double the peak power generation of the Hoover Dam. 
Of that amount, two-thirds came from first-time buyers, according to the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute, a leading source on addressing climate change through market-based solutions. The most-promising trend shows older established companies — like Owens Corning, Procter & Gamble and HP — joining well-publicized new industry leaders like Amazon, Google and Ikea in making the transition toward renewable energy purchases. For example, last year, Owens Corning signed an agreement with Chicago-based Invenergy for 125 megawatts of capacity, equivalent to the power needed for 30,000 households or more, from a wind farm being built in Texas.
Beyond industry — beyond government — a third, large-scale stakeholder is innovating in the context of climate change: academia. Responding to a growing demand from their students and faculty to transition away from fossil fuels, colleges and universities such as Ohio State University and the University of Oklahoma are among the partners with the largest U.S. green power contracts, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Chinese energy evolution
Like recent progress in the United States and European Union, China's energy landscape has continued to diversify, according the Grantham report. Hydroelectric, nuclear, wind and solar power are all expanding and accounted for more than 11 percent of the nation's primary energy consumption by the end of 2014. 
Perhaps most notably, coal consumption, which powered so much of China's forward momentum in the previous decade, saw no growth in 2014 and actually declined in 2015. 
Whether China's emissions peak has actually crested, the trends there and elsewhere are becoming more evident: Nations and companies across the world are making the transition to clean energy alternatives and putting their money behind those investments in order to foster new, innovative paths to a lower-emission future. 
Global perspectives have shifted toward encouraging nations to finally respond to climate change, but the window for action to avoid catastrophic climate impacts is limited. New technology is opening opportunities to reduce global emissions, and China's move toward renewable energies is at the forefront, such as their world-leading number of solar-voltaic installations for power generation. 
It's up to the rest of the world to continue to look forward, not back, to enhance global prosperity, reduce risks to communities, and sustain healthy ecosystems on which people depend.

16 comments:

Rowan Lanning said...

Finally, an article that brings what appears to be good news!! With the often depressing and hopeless attitude many of these articles and our readings discuss in class, it's hard to believe that there is opportunity for growth and evolution as a species in the way that we treat our planet. In our capitalist society, I believe that it will be easier to create a demand and a space in the capitalist market for green energy BEFORE the shift to an environmentally structured paradigm occurs. That shift, which will ultimately leave capitalism behind as a necessity of the past, will be slow moving and take time. But if we work within the system to create demand and incentive for green energy, things like this will happen. I'm just wondering how hard the oil, coal, and dirty energy companies will push for the change to not occur. I'm also interested to see what happens as the Chinese demographic goes through its shift resulting from the gender imbalance in its population. With so few women, it's inevitable that there will be a change in its demography. I truly hope that the one child policy, despite its obvious drawbacks, has impacted China in more than just a negative way.

Micah Steele said...

Seems like an encouraging step towards renewable committments by the country who has the second largest carbon foot print on the planet. I suggest that the U.S has in no small part put its foot on the scale to heavily encourage the chinese to make these committments not as a measure of military strength, buy rather as a matter of economic strength. The United States is the top emmitter or Co2 because of life style. China's economic might is based largely in part because they are providing many of our goods and services through their non regulated industries.
Another area which should be concerning is within the U.S as coal becomes less acceptable we are seeing a coninued inability for those in rural America find jobs that pay a living wage. The lost of coal jobs or mining jobs suggest that an increasing number of rural Americans will be forced to migrate to larger densely populated urban areas to survive. These urban areas have already been shown to reflect greatee demand on the enviroment thus effecting our sustainability also.

Anonymous said...

Using clean energy has become a big issue, and as more countries become developed they will also start to use more energy. And much of the world’s energy use now emits carbon. The idea of governments requiring some amount of energy to be renewable is a great idea in my opinion. It helps take the load off of using fossil fuels while also promoting the use of renewable energy an possibly the development of new systems for renewable energy. And that would be a key factor in switching over to renewable energy if having more effective ways of capturing and storing it that made it more financially appealing to consumers.
-Andy Ponticiello

Christina Marciante said...

This article looked at the problem of energy positively, but I don't believe everything I read. This article made everything seem like it was going to be okay, but it didn't account for the push-backs big businesses in oil and coal companies will probably make. The United States is a huge reason for this problem because of our lifestyle. This article is talking about China, but they're the ones who make most of the items we buy. If we were to pull away from concepts such as "fast-fashion," then we would be helping the environment more. We are trying to solve this problem using a technical solution and I don't think it will work. We need to change our lifestyles and education children about these problems, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

-Christina Marciante

Megan Brown said...

This article seemed overly positive even though this issue is a huge one that will probably not be as easy to get through the UN as tis article believes. There will be push back from businesses and maybe some countries where oil and coal is a huge factor of the economy. To think it will be as easy as 55 countries to get to put this legislation into affect is naive. Another huge thing to think of is that one of the major problems is that the United States effects this so much, not only for the amount they emit, but also the amount other countries emits to report good for us. If the United States make a step back and lessens the standard of living just a little, that would be a major step and a huge help to helping this issue.

Erika Anzalone said...

I am glad there are plans to change this corrupted system, but this seems way to optimistic and unlikely to happen in the near future. We need to promote the use of renewable energy, but actually make a realistic effort and plan to go through with this. Using clean energy can change our environmental issues for the better and reduce the use of fossil fuels. I like this new idea, but there are just too many loopholes and ways to escape the main issue in our world which is reducing our carbon footprint, but in a manageable way everyone in the world can take part

Erika Anzalone

SUET SZE AU said...

Written by SUET SZE AU

This article is actually a good new towards climate change. The two world largest carbon emitters- the United States and China promised to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases. Moreover, they also aimed to use more renewable energy, like solar energy and wind power, instead of the fossil fuels (like coal). This shift can reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and may be slow down climate change. Actually, all countries should work together in order to deal with this global issue. More Developed countries should continue to adopt more renewable energy and help the less- developed countries to develop more clean energy sources.
I also appreciated the efforts of various industries made towards using renewable energy. Their actions actually fulfilled their corporate social responsibilities which protected the environment.

Anonymous said...

I think what a lot of people, particularly in the United States fail to grasp is that switching to green energy presents a whole new economic opportunity. The need to move away from fossil fuels mean that an entirely new opportunities all across the spectrum. If your main interest is economics than a whole new industry should be something you root for, not push away. Yes, conventional fossil fuels industries will die off, but that would have happened eventually anyways. Isn't it better they die off with our terms, in the best interests of humanity while helping to limit our greenhouse gas emissions? Both China and the United States stand to benefit - but I think China, just by virtue of their government operates - may have an upper hand in investing in green energy technology over the United States.

Carl Wojciechowski

Brian Frank said...

This step towards cleaner energy is a great step. Since China is a prime example of how countries can become superpowers, developing countries in the may want to advance with bad energy options but with China's implementation of clean energy alternatives, they now present the idea that a country can be clean and still be a superpower. Speaking of implementation of more solar, wind and hydro plants China isnt the only country advancing for countries such as Germany have a growing wind and solar industry. We should also be setting an example for other countries by using cleaner energy sources. Not only is it the right thing to do but it would be a huge industry that could employ so many Americans. It would also decrease our reliance on other countries for oil aswell. According to the NPR, if the United States continues to grow the wind power industry, the energy will account for 20% of the country's electricity.

Ralph Green said...

The article does address the problem of carbon emissions and I give China credit for being in the article and addressing themselves but what about us, America? America and the lifestyles of the people who live their account for most of the problem. We need to think about what setbacks we would have and also how clean energy would effect large businesses such oil companies. I don't think the problem is the ignorance to change but rather the economic value of the way we do things now is why we don't change.

Kaitlynn Brady said...

This article was rather uplifting and optimistic compared to the previous. It's reassuring to hear the progression of renewable energy. Energy is one of the most basic necessities of life. The transition to renewable energy from the traditional oil and gas is essential to reducing emissions, slowing climate change and ultimately the survival of life on earth. Even though China is responsible for a lot of carbon emission, as well as the United States, it seems like they are the ones taking the necessary steps for change. Hopefully China can prove to be a successful example for the rest of the countries to follow. I look forward to hearing about the meeting with 100 countries in April. It's time that each country take responsibility for their part in the environment's degradation. It's essential to have the cooperation of all countries.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that there is a change going on to lead to cleaner energy. China is a great example of how our nations can pursue having cleaner energy. If every nation start to provide cleaner energy, then after a while, the ecological footprint would be less than it is now.

Fatimah Majors

Johnny Lopez said...

This article is a burst of "fresh air" because I was not aware of China's gradual progression towards becoming more sustainable! Although there is still a need for more effective efforts, it is powerful to see one of the top carbon emitters in the world becoming more progressive. Furthermore, the United States, China, and other first-world countries must become "role models" for developing countries. With the knowledge we gained in the last few classes discussing climate change, air pollution, renewable and non-renewable energies, it is obvious that the science behind climate change is important and a critical aspect of Environmental Science. Now it is up to governmental figures and offices to follow suit and become more inclined to pass bills that are more environmentally friendly and clean.

Grace Florian said...

I was shocked in the best way to hear the changes that China is making to help the environment. It is surprising to me they are making more progress than the United States and Europe. This is a trend the rest of the world should try to follow. I think this article made it clear that businesses are taking more action than overall governments and I think this is an important point to bring up. Individual companies are willing to make changes to reusable energy which is extremely important and incredibly helpful to our environment, but the government needs to step up and take care of things on a higher level. This is how we as a world will be able to make the greatest positive impact.

Anonymous said...

China is a nation that is moving in the right direction. More countries need to follow what China is doing in order to make an impact. Like the article said, our time to limit the damage done to our environment is limited. It's great to see a country like China leading the way towards a positive impact on our environment. More countries need to follow.

Robert Martin

Rebecca McMann said...

China is being able to make changes and move forward in a positive direction. The United States needs to sending this initiative as well. The US needs to wake up and just do what's needed. More effort needs to happen. For anything of real value to occur we must all give some effort because a global effort must be made not just a single country or few doing something. Cleaner energy is possible and China is a good example.