Changing climate of climate change meet

The world media will be focused on Cancun, Mexico, from Nov 29 to Dec 10. It is that time of the year when most of the world leaders appear worried about the fate of planet Earth, while during the rest of the 50 weeks it is mostly business as usual. Not that business as usual ceases for the two weeks.

But this time the hype seen before the Bali climate change conference in 2007 and the Copenhagen conference two years later is missing. No one seems to be talking about the possibility of reaching any deal, let alone finalizing the agreement to succeed Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

There is all-round despair, so to say, over reducing the emission of the principal greenhouse gases (GHGs) – carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. But there is hope, too, among some of the world leaders that it is possible to move forward, at least prepare the ground for the 2011 climate conference in Durban, South Africa. These leaders say it will not be easy to achieve a politically balanced package, but it is within reach. The key word here is "political", which means political will can make Cancun a success, or at least stop it from being a failure.

But as things stand now, the "hope" of such world leaders seems more like wishful thinking. And if Cancun fails, the blame can always be passed on to China (and India).

Figures released by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently do show that GHG emissions in China and India increased in 2009 by 8 percent and 6.2 percent. In contrast, developed nations, broadly speaking, saw their emissions fall (11.8 percent in Japan, 8.6 percent in the United Kingdom and 7 percent in Germany). And the fall had everything to do with a drop in industrial output in the developed countries because of economic recession.

That should make it easy to put the blame on China and India. The problem, however, is that the world has hailed China (and India) for leading the global economic recovery. The developed countries want China and India, along with other developing countries, to keep doing the "good job" of producing and consuming more. They want China and India to import more goods from the developed countries, too. Yet they want the two developing countries to cut their GHG emissions at the same time.

Let’s forget that the developed countries have the historical responsibility to lead in emission reduction because they have contributed the most to global warming. Let’s forget that China, India and other developing countries have the difficult task of lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and thus cannot afford to cut their emission levels by as much as the developed countries.

Let’s even forget that the developing countries cannot do so, handicapped as they are because of their backward technologies. But how can China, India and the rest of the developing world reduce GHG emissions if they have to go on increasing their industrial output and consumption to lead the global recovery – and once that’s achieved, to go on increasing their production and consumption?

Besides, despite a drop in global emissions by 1.3 percent in 2009 compared to the record high in 2008, this year could be the warmest on record. The NOAA got its figures from a study led by the universities of Exeter and East Anglia (both in Britain) and other global institutions, as part of the annual carbon budget update by the Global Carbon Project. And the study’s findings show that the fall in 2009 emission level was less than half of what was predicted (3 percent) a year ago.

More disturbingly, the study says that carbon dioxide emissions show no sign of abating and may reach record levels this year. Why? Because the world is on its way to conducting business as usual despite the political will that some world leaders talk about.

Without political will, the Kyoto Protocol would not have become a reality. But what has neutralized the effect of that political will is the power of economics. The world believes in producing and consuming more, for that is what economists (and, by default, political leaders) consider a sign of progress.

As long as economics rules over politics and the capitalist notion of endless production and consumption doesn’t change, there’s little chance of reaching a climate deal to save our planet.

China to build 10 GW wind farm in Xinjiang

China will build a 10.8 GW wind power farm in Hami in the far western Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in five years, a local official said Thursday.

As a matter of comparison, the installed wind energy capacity in Hami was only 100 MW last year. A 200 MW wind turbines project of China Huadian Corporation has just passed the preliminary review.

By OP Rana, China Daily