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Bernard: Well, pretty much sums up my opinion.
However, how pervasive are these views in China?

With regards to developed countries having the primary moral responsibility for reducing carbon emissions, that view is very widespread in China.  However, as for what I guessed was Xue Yong's chief message in writing this essay, the point that reducing carbon emissions is in China's own interest, indeed, that China and other developing countries have comparatively far more to benefit from reducing emissions than developed countries, it is not one I have heard put forth or discussed much.  Then again, it's not like I am able to follow the debates very easily in the media (as my Chinese listening and reading skills are still too low), and English-language discussions in China are obviously exceptions restricted to a tiny and atypical minority of the population.

Bernard: Is Xue Yong a lone voice lost in a crowd (if you'll excuse the bad pun)?

What about the Chinese überclass (billionaire bosses, party apparatchiks, etc...) that is busy capturing the wealth from our EU überclass and the US one?
Until these people move, nothing will move...

Actually, as Obama pointed out in his State of the Union speech last month, your Chinese überclass is already moving:

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient.

e.g.

After setting an original goal of 30 gigawatts of installed wind power by 2020, the government recently said that could be raised to 100 gigawatts as installed capacity has doubled each of the last four years.

From almost nothing a few years ago, China had 12.2 gigawatts of installed wind power by the end of 2008 as power companies have rushed to meet government mandates to raise the proportion of energy they produce from renewable sources.

China wind farms sprout amid 'green' energy push | PhysOrg.com (August 11, 2009)



The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.
by marco on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 02:42:53 AM EST
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marco:
my Chinese listening and reading skills are still too low

Sorry marco, gotta call BS on this one. ;)

What you've produced here requires substantial language skills.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 03:38:11 PM EST
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... and a not insignificant amount of time as well.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 03:38:38 PM EST
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dvx: ... and a not insignificant amount of time as well.

And there's the rub.  At the snail's pace that I read Chinese, it is impossible for me to read more than more or less randomly chosen snatches of news and commentary in Chinese language media.  Hopefully, speed and accuracy will improve with practice.

Thanks.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Sat Feb 6th, 2010 at 04:20:43 AM EST
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marco:
Actually, as Obama pointed out in his State of the Union speech last month, your Chinese überclass is already moving

I mean no disrespect to the esteemed President of the United States, but I would hardly consider him as an authoritative reference on China (Chinese wouldn't either, I suppose).

I understand that China is moving decisively into wind energy development, as a potentially lucrative new market, but also as a strategic necessity: as Xue Yong himself is pointing out, China is very much dependent on imported oil and from very few sources, mostly Middle-East. Precisely where the USA has its hands firmly on the spigot (save Iran).

So there are plenty of compelling motives for "going wind" besides emission reduction.

China is quickly becoming one of the most polluted countries on earth, and there is very little motivation for the plutocrats to really harness the issue: it would only cut into their profit.

by Bernard on Fri Feb 5th, 2010 at 04:06:26 PM EST
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Bernard: So there are plenty of compelling motives for "going wind" besides emission reduction.

That is a good point.  It would be interesting to look at all the specific measures China is taking and the ones it could take but isn't, and to see whether they point to other motivations besides emissions reduction, such as energy security (e.g. reduced reliance on the Straits of Malacca) and economic gains (e.g. "green jobs").  In particular, are there any measures we could look at that could only be motivated by emissions reduction, and that would not contribute much to energy security and/or economic gains?  Maybe more stringent emissions regulations, and more stringent enforcement of such regulations?  Maybe mandatory installation of equipment in industries or residences that filter and/or capture noxious gases (though this, conceivably, might be tainted by an economic motivation to create jobs for the makers and installers of such equipment, assuming they are Chinese)?  Any others?  If we can identify a list of such "purely for emissions reduction" measures, then we can then look into whether the Chinese government is acting on these.

Bernard: China is quickly becoming one of the most polluted countries on earth

I think those photographs (which are amazing and disturbing) are similar to Obama's remarks about China's "moving" on renewable energy: it doesn't prove the point, but it illustrates it vividly.

Bernard: and there is very little motivation for the plutocrats to really harness the issue: it would only cut into their profit.

Which is why China's government has been so aggressive in mandating renewable energy initiatives.  (I assume China's government counts as part of China's "überclass".)  But then again, as noted above, these initiatives may not be motivated by the desire to avoid harm caused by carbon emissions (e.g. massive health crisis, rising sea levels, etc.) but rather in order to increase energy security and to gain economic benefits.

The march of civilizations is a series of defenses that man has put up against the dread of pure existence.

by marco on Sat Feb 6th, 2010 at 03:46:35 AM EST
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It would be interesting to look at all the specific measures China is taking and the ones it could take but isn't, and to see whether they point to other motivations besides emissions reduction, such as energy security (e.g. reduced reliance on the Straits of Malacca) and economic gains (e.g. "green jobs").

I think there is a wrong framing for China's wind investments throughout the whole thread. This would be primarily an issue of emissions reduction if new wind capacityx would replace old capacity, or at least make up the bulk of new additions. However, the reality of the past decade is that China was trying to keep up with rapidly rising demand, and wind still makes up only a small part of the added capacity (not to mention TWh/year actual generation): in 2009, total capacity grew by 70 GW vs 2008. I find no breakdown of the non-wind part for this, but 71.5 GW out of the 92.5 GW increase from 2006 to 2007 was thermal plants according to EIA tables.

So I think increasing capacity by whatever means is the main motivation. Which is not to say that going cleaner is just PR; China is also closing small old coal plants to the tune of gigawatts.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Feb 6th, 2010 at 07:22:51 AM EST
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