Archive for the 'China' Category

U.S and China Race to the Clean Energy Future PART 2: Taking Action

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Outside of the Cancun Messe at the international climate talks, runners Kevin Osborne from the U.S and Yingao Chen from China take their mark at the starting line. A sports commentator calls out: “It’s a beautiful day! The sun is shining, the wind is blowing and our two competitors are ready to begin this epic race for a brighter and more prosperous world”. At the sound of a whistle, the runners take off, racing toward the clean energy future.

What is the story behind this race? The U.S and China are major emitters and major economies with a complex relationship and huge opportunities to lead the clean energy economy…

At this moment in time, U.S is falling behind during a time that  we most need economic revitalization and a competitive new  job sector. While China has taken huge strides in building their  renewable energy sector, much of their turbines and solar  systems are exported while more new coal plants are  constructed to meet growing energy demands.

U.S leadership has come empty-handed to the negotiations and continues to accuse China of holding up progress. Relations between U.S and China remain tenuous and marked with antagonism and mistrust.

Can the two countries overcome their differences and rise to the challenge? Who will emerge victorious in the clean energy economy?


Continue reading ‘U.S and China Race to the Clean Energy Future PART 2: Taking Action’

U.S and China Race to the Clean Energy Future PART 1: Discourse on Action

Adapted from a press briefing between American and Chinese youth in Cancun. Click here to see a clip from this briefing aired on China Central TV.

For the past two weeks at the U.N negotiations in Cancun, youth representing the major world powers, from the Chinese Youth Delegation, Sierra Student Coalition, SustainUS, and Cascade Climate Network, have converged in Cancun to form the U.S China Youth Climate Exchange, an innovative, multi-pronged initiative and to demonstrate the sort of cooperation and creativity that our nations’ leaders should be working toward to solve the climate crisis.

One crucial aspect of our efforts is a shared action to send the message to U.S. and Chinese politicians; we need both China and the U.S rising to the occasion, racing toward the clean energy future. I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work closely with Yingao, my counterpart on the Chinese youth delegation to plan and drive forward this action. In planning this action, what began as a very tactical alliance turned into a much more meaningful and beneficial experience than I had ever expected.

U.S and Chinese youth met with lead-negotiator Jonathan Pershing to voice our vision for greater cooperation between our two countries.

As a young person from the U.S, I am very concerned with our nation’s role in climate change, and in stalling progress on international cooperation. I am also committed to the notion that in order to make a difference as youth, we have to be blunt and we have to be specific. Specifically, in order to fulfill our mitigation responsibilities and make a real contribution to international progress in time for COP17 in South Africa, we need to demand that President Obama match China’s solar growth rate and double wind capacity in the next year.

After my first few meetings with Yingao and other Chinese youth delegates, I began to realize that American and Chinese youth have very different perspectives on our governments and the best way to inspire political progress. As I encountered these differences, I began to fear that my vision for this action would be compromised and so I asserted my own will as if it was inherently at odds with those of the Chinese youth. These meetings left me feeling somewhat discouraged and fatigued- and as if I was coming up against a wall.

Then things started to shift- the platform on which U.S and Chinese youth were interacting and collaborating was expanding under my feet- the action was just one, important but not self-sufficient, aspect of these efforts. Throughout the first week of the negotiations, I participated in many eye-opening experiences. I attended a workshop led by U.S and Chinese youth on our unique histories and educational backgrounds, our governments and their approach to tackling climate change, and a philosophical evaluation of our own cultural assumptions and patterns of behavior between people from such distinct nations.  Also, during an “open space” session at our “diplomacy dinner,” I conversed with Chinese youth on issues as diverse as the role of religion in China, national security in U.S and China energy policy, and the Kyoto Protocol “Common but Differentiated Responsibility” clause.

"I took a philosophical glimpse at the cultural assumptions and patterns of behavior between U.S and China"

The overarching message and importance of the U.S China shared action was as evident in the planning process as it was in the execution of the action. I felt firsthand what it feels like to negotiate one’s own values, principles, and objectives with those of someone from a very different background. I also began to realize the importance of engaging the other and of acting in the spirit of cooperation, rather than opposition. As I got to know Yingao and other Chinese youth as individuals, we started examining our cultural assumptions and explaining our histories and the reasoning behind our beliefs. Once we began to share these insights, it became clear that we did not inherently disagree- in fact, most times we could understand where the other was coming from. Our dialogue did not feel like a series of traded concessions- it felt like a collaboration.

I say all this because I firmly believe that in order for our countries to reach any agreement and enable international progress to solve the climate crisis, we need to learn, use, and listen to the language of shared understanding. It is my hope that U.S and Chinese negotiators examine their own assumed boundaries to cooperation and begin to find opportunities for mutual collaboration.

Stay tuned for Part 2, Taking Action

Canada’s Chance to Lead

Cross-posted from Corporate Knights

The Canadian Government has been aiming to lead the charge on government accountability since the day they entered office.  However, when it comes to accountability of climate change actions, their stance remains unclear.

The story begins with the usual suspect: the United States. The US is insisting that they will not be a part of any global climate change agreement unless there is some level of transparency and review of emission reductions from big polluters - such as China and India. And rumours have it that countries such as Canada, Japan, Russia and Australia are apt to follow suite.

The flip side of the coin is that China will not move on transparency (measuring and reporting its emissions) until the United States proves that it is serious about cutting emissions. There are a number of proposals on the table right now from various countries on how to deal with this disagreement. Continue reading ‘Canada’s Chance to Lead’

UN Agrees Moratorium on Geoengineering Experiments!

Moratorium in Nagoya!
Nagoya, Japan: News Release | 29 October 2010 |

Geoengineering Moratorium at UN Ministerial in Japan

Risky Climate Techno-fixes Blocked

NAGOYA, Japan – In a landmark consensus decision, the 193-member UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will close its tenth biennial meeting with a de facto moratorium on geoengineering projects and experiments.   “Any private or public experimentation or adventurism intended to manipulate the planetary thermostat will be in violation of this carefully crafted UN consensus,” stated Silvia Ribeiro, Latin American Director of ETC Group.

The agreement, reached during the ministerial portion of the two-week meeting which included 110 environment ministers, asks governments to ensure  that no geoengineering activities take place until risks to the environmental and biodiversity and associated social, cultural and economic impacts risks have been appropriately considered as well as the socio-economic impacts. The CBD secretariat was also instructed to report back on various geoengineering proposals and potential intergovernmental regulatory measures. Continue reading ‘UN Agrees Moratorium on Geoengineering Experiments!’

The Dalai Lama on Global Warming

I was in the same room as his Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama for approximately 1.5 hours this afternoon. He made a visit to Toronto, Canada to address a crowd of over 30,000 in what could be summarized as a lesson of kindness.

What emerged from his mouth, however, reached issues including global warming and climate change. He affirmed his thoughts that humans make contributions to global warming, and dug a little deeper than most have:

These tragedies are not natural disasters, they are human disasters. They are man-made tragedies,” he said when explaining the impacts of climate change. “It is our own carelessness,” he concluded.

His observation of progress of the United Nations climate talks was clear: “The United Nations is [telling us that] national interest is of greater importance than the global interest,” as he described the inability to come to a global consensus in Copenhagen. “This is too narrow-minded. We must broaden our perspective.

His Holiness wove these concepts mindfully with discussing the utmost strength and importance of truth, openness, sincerity and honesty – all which he defines as necessities of building resolution. Simultaneously, he discussed the basis of working for the good of humanity, with the recognition that we all crave resolution and dislike conflict.

“Destruction of your neighbour is destruction of yourself.  Don’t remain at a distance [from each other]. Meet. Listen. Develop a spirit of dialogue. Create a sense of caring for the wellbeing of others.”

May the United Nations, countries, and individuals alike heed the Dalai Lama’s advice, because, as he says, the solutions “will not fall from the sky. It [will come] from our own action.”

What’s Next, Obama?

***Please reply to this posting with ideas for how we can creatively message these demands on Thursday evening, or other ideas for getting vocal.***

This past Monday, I was invited to join a youth environmental leader’s call hosted by the White House, geared toward energizing young voters around Obama’s environmental agenda. At the end of the call, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson fielded a few questions, including one from me; I asked her what Obama would do to make up for a lack of congressional action on climate change, both here in the U.S and in the lead-up to the U.N international climate negotiations in Cancun this November. Not surprisingly, her answer was vague and indirect.

The next day, I received exciting news from the White House. After a month of pressure from grassroots groups, President Obama made a symbolic step toward committing to clean energy leadership, by agreeing to outfit his home with solar panels and a solar water heating system. Despite the pride I feel for this movement victory, I am still left wanting.


After a long hiatus, Obama has given the green light to have solar power reinstated on the roof of the White House



Our country is lagging behind when it comes to building the clean energy future. Our largest clean tech investment thus far came from the stimulus package, and our federal government still insists on funneling money into destructive dirty energy projects. In the U.S oil industry alone, federal subsidies range from roughly $6 billion to a staggering $39 billion annually.

Meanwhile, our leaders’ lack of action has obstructed any meaningful progress on the international front. Not only has Congress failed to produce climate legislation, but this week at the U.N intercessional climate negotiations in Tianjin, China, instead of making headway in the lead-up to Cancun, U.S negotiators insisted on pointing the finger at developing countries for not taking enough action.

Youth in other countries are noticing this hypocrisy too. The day before Obama’s announcement to install solar on his roof, youth around the U.S circulated a letter written from Chinese youth and their university professors, addressed to U.S Special Envoy on Climate Change, Todd Stern, calling on the U.S to follow China’s example and make real strides toward clean energy development; by doubling domestic wind capacity and matching China’s solar growth rate within one year. Continue reading ‘What’s Next, Obama?’

The Rise of China’s Green Mercantilism

By Teryn Norris & Daniel Goldfarb
Cross-posted from

China is rising to dominate the clean energy industry primarily due to direct government subsidies, according to a new investigative report by the New York Times. The rise of China’s “green mercantilism” marks a new stage in the global clean energy race and raises critical questions for U.S. competitiveness policy.  According to the report:

The booming Chinese clean energy sector, now more than a million jobs strong, is quickly coming to dominate the production of technologies essential to slowing global warming… much of China’s clean energy success lies in aggressive government policies that help this crucial export industry in ways most other governments do not… “Who wins this clean energy race,” Mr. Zhao of Sunzone said, “really depends on how much support the government gives.”

China’s clean energy industrial policy is unique in its scale and type, and some of its practices may violate World Trade Organization rules and could spark trade conflict between the United States and China:

These measures risk breaking international rules to which China and almost all other nations subscribe, according to some trade experts… Other countries also try to help their clean energy industries, too, but not to the extent that China does — and not, so far at least, to the point of potentially running afoul of W.T.O. rules.

Continue reading ‘The Rise of China’s Green Mercantilism’

Oil Spill in China

On Friday, two oil pipelines exploded while an oil tanker was unloading outside Dalian City, China. The spill covers an area of appr0ximately 71 miles, and low end estimates of the amount of oil spilled are around 1,500 to 1,650 tons of crude oil (or about 11,000-12,500 barrels).  The explosions last for about 15 hours and created flames about 30 meters high (video here).  No people were hurt and the leaks have been stopped, but now the clean up begins.

So in the past couple of months, we have seen the worst oil spill in American history in the Gulf, and oil spill in Salt Lake City, Utah that spilled 785 barrels into streams, parks and backyards, and now this explosion in China.  This is not to mention all the oil spills across the world that escape media attention because they are poorly monitored, like the five decades of oil spills in Nigeria.  Oh, and don’t forget the 27,000 abandoned and unmonitored oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico.

These are not isolated incidents.  They are symptoms of an energy system that is inherently unsafe and unstable.  Disasters like these will continue to to occur, unless we actually start to get off oil.

One Young World – 25 today, leading the world tomorrow

By Xixi Sun

Well, I am not yet 25 and definitely not yet leader of the world, but I am amongst the 700 international youth right here in London attending the inaugural One Young World summit. We were all born after 1984 and we represent youth from all 192 countries on this planet. Early this year I was lucky enough to be sponsored to attend. We are here to discuss the challenges faced by our generation and topics include climate change, interfaith dialogue, global business, media, global health and developing leadership for a positive future.

Here I want to tell you what Day 1 of this summit makes me think.

Having heard speeches made by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sir Bob Geldof and Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnson yesterday at the opening ceremony, we started our day with the welcome session by hosts David Jones and Kate Robertson. The first plenary session is on Environment and its protection. Having attended COP15 last December with the China Youth COP15 team, I am glad to see that youth today have not lost hope. They have different views on why Copenhagen has failed, but they all agreed that actions need to be taken now and we cannot wait for the decision-makers to make decisions. In the video from Senator John Kerry he mentioned the youth campaign “How old will you be in 2050?” That T-shirt is still in my Beijing home and reminds me of the campaigning events we had in the Bella Centre. As many have said, it’s not the end, it’s just the beginning. And this OYW summit is not just a nice trip to London. There’s work, hard work to be done. This summit will be producing a youth resolution, where each part will be voted to pass by the 700 participants. Continue reading ‘One Young World – 25 today, leading the world tomorrow’

Asia Challenges U.S. Innovation Leadership, New Report Shows

Originally published at LeadEnergy

A major report released last week by the National Science Board concludes that U.S. global leadership in science and technology is declining as foreign nations – especially China and other Asian countries – rapidly develop their national innovation systems.

“U.S. dominance has eroded significantly… The data begin to tell a worrisome story,” stated Kei Koizumi, assistant director for federal research and development in President Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The Director of the National Science Foundation, Arden Bement, noted that “China is achieving a dramatic amount of synergy by increasing its investment in science and engineering education, in research, and in infrastructure, which is attracting scientists from all over the world.”

The report, “Science and Engineering Indicators 2010,” is published every two years by the National Science Board, a 25-member expert council that advises the National Science Foundation, President, and Congress on science and technology policy, education, and research. Koizumi called it a “State of the Union on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”

This “state of the union” for science and technology comes amidst growing concern that Asia is out-competing the U.S. in the burgeoning global clean-tech sector. According to the “Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant” report I recently co-authored with the Breakthrough Institute and Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, China, Japan, and South Korea have already surpassed the U.S. in the production of nearly all clean energy technologies, and these governments are expected to out-invest the U.S. three-to-one in this industry over the next five years. As U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu recently said, “The world is passing us by. We are falling behind in the clean energy race.”

Continue reading ‘Asia Challenges U.S. Innovation Leadership, New Report Shows’