Can Cooperation on Climate Change Transcend the Challenges of U.S.-China Relations?

Environmental issues – especially climate change – is about the only area of cooperation in the often fraught Sino-U.S. relationship. I recently moderated a discussion featuring leading thinkers on the issue: Barbara Finamore (Natural Resources Defense Council), Isabel Hilton (China Dialogue), Orville Schell (Asia Society), Deborah Seligsohn (University of California San Diego), and Clay Stranger (Rocky Mountain Institute).

Highlights of the video can be accessed here.

The full round table can be found here

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Is China Doing Enough for the Environment?

Let’s congratulate China for what it‘s doing to fight environmental damage and climate change. It has the world’s most ambitious clean-tech program, investing $110 billion in clean-energy technologies last year, almost as much as the U.S. and the E.U. combined.

From almost nothing five years ago, China now has the world’s largest installed base of wind power and solar power. Coal use has dropped each of the past two years. Electricity generated by coal was less than 70 percent last year, down 10 percentage points from 2011. Low-carbon source such as hydro and wind have made up the difference and are now significant sources of electricity generation in China.

Energy intensity is falling, as China shifts away from its traditional reliance on heavy industry to embrace the service sector. Indeed, China is responsible for much of the good, and unexpected, news from the International Energy Agency that global carbon emissions have plateaued in the past two years despite continued economic growth.

When Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a historic agreement with Barack Obama in November 2014 promising that China’s CO2 emissions would peak “around 2030,’” the agreement was hailed as a big step forward. And it was. At last, China formally put a date on peak emissions.

Good as this news is, China needs to do more.

Originally published as part of an Asia Society ChinaFile Conversation. Can be accessed here

What Will It Take For Humanity To Listen To Scientists?

What will it take for humanity to listen to scientists?

That was the question a panel of Nobel Laureates asked at Hong Kong’s Asia Society Center on April 22nd as they urged quick global action on climate change.  “We can” make the transition to a low-carbon future, said Brian Schmidt (2011 Nobel for physics), “but I’m not sure we will.” Schmidt warned that humanity is “poised to do more damage to the Earth in the next 35 years than we have done in the last 1,000.”

The seminar kicked off the fourth Nobel Laureates Symposium on Global Sustainability, organized by the Asia Society Hong Kong Center and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research.

Originally published in Forbes. Can be accessed here

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Review: Greenprint by Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian

In their slim book, Aaditya Mattoo and Arvind Subramanian make a case for action led not by the rich West but by the giants of the developing world. The biggest carbon emitter is China; other large developing nations—India (third largest), Brazil, and Indonesia—are also significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions…

This review was originally published in the Asian Review of Books. Can be accessed at www.asianreviewofbooks.com/?ID=1494