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Published by Climate Spectator.

new report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last week finds that the shift in production from developed to developing countries masks increased carbon emissions of countries that pledged emissions reductions under the Kyoto Protocol.

The new analysis shows that while the territorial emissions of ‘Annex B’ countries (defined as developed countries with emission-reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol) appear to be stabilising, emissions generated from the production of traded goods increased from 1.6 Gt CO2 to 4.3 Gt between 1990 and 2008 – from 20 per cent to 26 per cent of the proportion of global emissions. Once these consumption-based emissions are accounted for, Annex B countries have increased their emissions.

“[The] study shows for the first time that emissions from increased production of internationally traded products have more than offset the emissions reductions achieved under the Kyoto Protocol,” contributing researcher Glen Peters told The Guardian. “This suggests that the current focus on territorial emissions in a subset of countries may be ineffective at reducing global emissions without some mechanisms to monitor and report emissions from the production of imported goods and services.”

The offshoring of emissions that is now occurring is no surprise given the Kyoto Protocol’s two-tiered mitigation framework and globalising production and consumption. The report’s authors suggest improved carbon accounting to incorporate the embodied emissions of goods and services, yet given the slow pace of international climate change negotiations such a change seems unlikely in the short term.

Whether or not the international carbon accounting practices are altered, one thing remains certain: renewable energy substitutes must be made competitive with fossil fuels. International efforts are needed to ensure that wherever production occurs, it is in economies that are decarbonising.

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Published by the US-based clean energy advocate, Americans for Energy Leadership.

In an attempt to advance the “new Sputnik” narrative, the Obama administration filed a complaint with the World Trade Organisation against China over its clean energy subsidies in the last weeks of 2010.

The administration’s move comes just months after the United Steelworkers (USW) union filed a trade case with the office of United States Trade Representative. The earlier USW petition argues that China’s generous subsidies and land grants, available only for locally made parts, constitute preferential treatment of its domestic clean energy manufacturers. The current practices, the USW argues, disadvantage American firms and are trade distorting.

Over at Grist, Lucia Green-Weiskel and Tina Gerhardt write that:

“Both complaints ignore the fact that energy industries all over the world benefit from government subsidies. In the U.S. and Europe, the nuclear and fossil-fuel industries get massive public subsidies. And as a percentage of GDP, Spain and the U.K. pump funding at levels similar to China’s into green subsidies.”

While this critique is correct, ultimately it doesn’t really matter whether or not the WTO rules in favor of America. The whole exercise helps to focus attention on the “new Sputnik” narrative that appears to be gaining momentum.

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Published at Crikey’s environment blog, Rooted.

It’s time for the government and climate change advocates to stop obsessing over carbon pricing and get behind an investment-centred climate policy.

Polling released last week, as PM Gillard announced the members of her government’s Carbon Pricing Climate Change Committee, showed that just 37% of Australians think it is very important to implement an ETS (or other carbon-pricing measures) to address climate change. When we consider the prominence of emissions trading in contemporary climate change policy debates in Australia, it is fair to say the measure is still struggling to win strong public support.

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Published by ABC’s The Drum.

The ascension of Julia Gillard provides an opportunity for Labor to reorient its climate change policy agenda.

Contrary to what its proponents have argued for years, emissions trading has not been as politically feasible as initially thought. Labor’s inability to pass a market-based mechanism in its first term not only brings into question the political palatability of neoliberal-inspired policy, but also draws attention to the need for alternative approaches.

With the national climate change debate focused solely on capping and trading carbon, policymakers have forgotten that there are many paths to reduce Australia’s emissions and transition to a clean energy economy.

The launch of Beyond Zero Emissions‘ Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy report is an attempt to push back against narrow-minded policymaking. It details a path for Australia to meet 100 per cent of its energy needs with renewable energy by the end of the decade. Making the plan a reality will require a radical shift in climate policy.

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Co-authored with Johanna Peace and Devon Swezey and published by the Breakthrough Institute and WattHead.

People's Hall China Historically, the United States has been the nation with the capacity and determination for large-scale investments in promising new technologies–but not this time. Now it’s China’s turn. In the coming weeks, China will unveil an unprecedented multi-billion dollar investment in renewable energy.

The details are sketchy, but China is reportedly developing a massive renewable energy investment plan. While little is known about the precise level of expenditure the Chinese will commit to research, development and deployment (RD&D), if it’s anywhere between the US $440-660 billion over ten years reported by AFP and the Center for American Progress then it’ll be an unprecedented investment in the new energy economy.

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Published by the Breakthrough Generation.

In his book, China Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World, Tim Fishman explores the rise of China and highlights areas where the Chinese have out-competed, are gaining ground, or seek to out-compete US industries. When we consider the recent developments, including China’s investment in clean energy from ‘green’ stimulus measures exceeding that of the US, and enacting fuel efficiency standards beyond those recently approved by Congress, it seems this could represent an emerging trend.

While Fishman acknowledges that ‘[t]he ability of American industry to stay ahead of its competition rests on the national gifts and resources that the United States devotes to innovation’, he warns that the innovation gap is ‘beginning to narrow’.

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Published by On Line Opinion, Australia’s leading e-journal of social and political debate.

416263080_56111a9fcaRecently, the Rudd Government introduced the central plank of its climate change policy to the Parliament. And it’s a sure bet that the so-called Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation, which sets up a national emissions trading scheme, will continue to attract criticism from across the political spectrum.

I am not interested in criticising the design or impact of the ETS here, I will leave that to people already engaged in that debate. What I am interested in highlighting are the opportunity costs of the Rudd Government’s climate policy program – alternative policies our government might have pursued to reduce Australia’s climate impact.

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Leigh Ewbank


Climate and energy writer based in Melbourne, Australia.

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Creative Commons License All blogs presented on this site, therealewbank.wordpress.com, by Leigh Ewbank are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Australia License
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