22 August 2008 15:19 [Source: ICIS news]
By John Richardson
SINGAPORE (ICIS news)--China and the environment might not only be about rivers changing colour several times a day and factories belching out air pollution that kills hundreds of thousands of people prematurely every year.
In what could turn out to be the ultimate irony of ironies, the very economic system which has caused the crisis in the first place could end up resulting in ?xml:namespace>
The group’s latest report -
This is the result of government policies which are encouraging innovation in low-carbon technologies resulting in billions of dollars being spent on energy efficiency and renewable technologies.
The huge energy that was once poured into industrialisation - once Deng Xiaoping declared that getting rich was glorious - seems to have now been turned to a coordinated nationwide renewable energy policy.
As was the case with industrialisation, state backing might overcome that nasty burden of capitalism - the need to return short-term profits, or even any kind of profits at all.
Incentives are in place to boost wind power.
But even though
The market for solar water heaters is worth more than $2bn a year and is growing at 20%, while the electric bicycles (e-bikes) sector is around $6bn, the report adds.
Research is taking place in to carbon capture and storage (CCS) and integrated gasification combined cycle technology.
Energy companies are pursuing viable CCS technologies with considerable zeal.
China might have virtually unlimited cash to throw at the problem and if it succeeds in clearing the big viability hurdle it could mean: millions, possibly billions, of dollars made from licensing technologies and selling carbon credits if a global cap-and-trade system evolves.
The country could become an excellent CCS testing ground for companies such as Shell if, as seems likely, the right incentives are put in place.
If credits can be earned from capturing and storing carbon, this could result in very competitive methanol and methanol-to-olefins production.
The wider possibility of effective CCS could enable
The country has targeted a 20% reduction in energy intensity by 2010 compared with 2005 levels.
Using high efficiency, super critical technologies to replace small, inefficient coal plants, it has avoided CO2 emissions of approximately 37.6m tonnes/year, the report adds.
Energy efficiency standards have also been set for 1,000 of the largest energy consuming companies.
A comprehensive set of complementary regulations have been developed to cover almost every sector of
These include fuel economy regulations, mandatory efficiency and labelling standards for home appliances, green car taxes, strict building-efficiency design codes and renewable subsidies, says the report.
“Chinese entrepreneurs are riding a low carbon wave of investment,” adds the Climate Group. "A low carbon wave has swept up tens of thousands of Chinese companies and created some of
“Returns on energy efficiency improvements often exceed 50% a year, equivalent to a pay-back period of only two years.”
“Taking advantage of international markets,
“It is estimated that
This all sounds fantastic, but the old story about
Arthur Kroeber of the China Economic Quarterly, however, believes that this old tale about China is total nonsense when the central government decides to take something seriously.
The environment is one problem that
But the task remains huge. According to fellow RBI title the New Scientist, if
The problem for
But the European rural idyll is hardly carbon-neutral.
Instead it can often be about four-wheel drive gas guzzlers, oil-fired centrally-heated and poorly insulated converted barns and conveniently located supermarkets stocked with food and drink from the four corners of the world.
So the dilemma is mitigating the impact of emerging-market consumption growth on the environment.
Maybe the Chinese system is ideally designed to rise to this challenge whereas democracy is not.
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