In my attempts to catch up on lots of literature published over the past year that I missed, I finally read the 2012 paper China’s Long Road to a Low-Carbon Economy: An Institutional Analysis by Philip Andrews-Speed, one of the first and foremost international commentators on China’s energy economy. Naturally, its stuff worth reading (otherwise I wouldn’t be blogging about it) because it addresses the core factors of whether China will ever succeed in its quest for sustainability – its governance institutions, and more specifically, the tension between the tendency of such institutions to maintain the status quo and their capacity to adapt to change. Andrews-Speed is ultimately pessimistic, but more interesting, I think, is his thought processes in reaching such a conclusion.
Posted by Geoffrey Henderson, Kristin Meek, David Waskow, Athena Ballesteros and Paul Joffe
This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog:
Nearly a year ago, the United States and China laid out their national climate action plans for the coming years. These were the first in what is now a substantial list of national climate action plans—plans that will form the basis of a new international climate agreement to be finalized in Paris later this year. Now, the world’s two biggest emitters have taken the next step by cementing their plans, jointly announcing key actions they’ll take to achieve their national goals, and clarifying their views on the upcoming Paris agreement.
The announcement not only reveals the critical climate actions these countries will take domestically—it builds the necessary momentum to ensure that the new international climate agreement is a successful one.
Posted by Valerie Karplus
The latest Obama-Xi announcement sends a strong message: the two nations are acting fast to enable a global low carbon transition. Friday’s joint announcement is an unprecedented step by the world’s #1 and #2 emitters to commit, at the highest levels, to a strong set of domestic policies and to reinforce global mechanisms that will help to engage peers ahead of the upcoming landmark climate change negotiations in Paris
Posted by Deborah Seligsohn
The US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change is a landmark for the bilateral relationship in terms of its specificity and ambition. This is especially true given that many Chinese wonder at the direction of US policy given that none of the Republican candidates in next year’s election support strong climate policy. While those in the administration have told me the subject has never come up in formal bilateral discussions, I suspect that is more in the nature of diplomatic politesse (don’t impugn the other guy’s government) than a reflection of real Chinese analysis. Chinese academics who directly advise the Chinese government have repeatedly raised the issue of the stability of US policy with me. But that means the Chinese commitment is all the more remarkable and is good news. President Xi Jinping has chosen this international “hand-tying approach” – making a formal public commitment where failure to meet it would be an international embarrassment – because he has domestic reasons to want to do more on energy policy and climate change.
Posted by Valerie Karplus
Climate change looms large among the many issues on the table at the upcoming meeting of Presidents Xi and Obama in the U.S. next week. Any new developments at that meeting will build on announced domestic efforts to address the issue, starting with a joint declaration in Beijing last November of what would become the main elements of each country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (or INDC). In its INDC, China has pledged to reverse the increase in its CO2 emissions to peak by 2030 or sooner. It also pledged to increase the share of non-fossil energy in its primary energy mix to around 20% by 2030, and to achieve a 60-65% reduction in CO2 intensity in 2030, relative to 2005 levels. The U.S. has pledged to reduce its absolute CO2 emissions level 26-28% by 2025, relative to 2005 levels. These pledges are cornerstones in the emerging architecture of global climate change mitigation ahead of a landmark round of global climate talks rapidly approaching in Paris later this year.
Posted by Geoffrey Henderson
China’s top steel-producing city—Tangshan, Hebei province—is undergoing campaigns to reduce smog through stringent pollution standards and to tackle overcapacity, which entail reduced production, plant shutdowns, and plant renovation. The smog campaigns are part of a larger program to address air pollution and limit coal consumption, while the effort to reduce overcapacity comes as China is working to restructure its economy by reducing the share of energy-intensive industry and increasing the share of services. According to the International Energy Agency (2014), in Hebei, China’s largest steel-producing province, the average estimated electricity price for electric arc furnace steel producers in 2013 was roughly $85 per megawatt-hour (MWh), compared to roughly $50/MWh in Indiana, the largest steel-producing state in the U.S. It is noteworthy that under the recently finalized U.S. Clean Power Plan, EPA modeling projects that in the industrial Midwest, retail electricity prices will be roughly five percent higher in 2020 than business-as-usual, but this increase will diminish after that. Even the effect of these price increases can be reduced or eliminated through energy efficiency improvements and policy measures. Thus electricity is likely to remain significantly cheaper for U.S. electric arc furnace steel producers than for Chinese producers.