Tired of hearing that China will cheat on the agreement made with the US on curbing pollution? Worried China is untrustworthy?
In the words of an Italian business associate of mine, “OK, now I splain you”.
Damn near everything in Ace Hardware to WallMart is made in China. It got here by negotiated contracts, delivery deadlines, and guess what, it made it on time, they did what they were suppose to. They did the same thing for Boeing and Airbus, they supply major components to both. From McDonalds to my local farm co-op selling grain to them, there is no trustworthy issue. They do what they agree to.
This CO2 target is good business for China. A good percentage of solar power products and some wind power hardware come from China. Since the announcement India has indicated it will get onboard too, and Denmark already a convert announced it will go all the way to 100% green in a few years. All this means an increase in the production of these products and falling prices through economy of scale. Lower cost renewable energy will lower the cost of manufacturing and living in China. Already at an advantage this is going to make them even more competitive. It will drive down prices for all of us.
If you have seen the pictures of pollution in China, and read how much farm land is polluted from intense fallout and run-off from manufacturers and power plants there is no question, even an authoritarian government has to say stop, lives are being shortened and importantly it is embarrassing the hell out of them when the business world beats a path to China and comes home with a smog hangover and sore throat. They don’t like it, it’s all about saving face.
So, I say they are trustworthy on this agreement, it makes good business sense for them, and they have to do it for the health of the nation. The exact numbers are not important, suffice it to say they will be installing thousands of wind turbines, and millions of rooftop panels and PV farms. They are still building a coal plant a week, but this will taper off soon, and already they are closing some of their dirtiest oldest plants, resulting in a benefit if somewhat muted. Last month they announced a $6 a ton on coal imports to drive up cost to impose efficiency. Other things done recently (at least in some areas) carbon trading market, higher electric rates for the wealthy, local officials get promotion points if energy use goes down and air quality goes up in their region.
China is hacking us, bullying in the Pacific, spying, making counterfit products, kind of like a lot of nations did, or are. But saving money through a new kind of energy economy is something they understand, the numbers and approach vary, but it will happen, and if it causes clean air then hey that’s a good deal. And since their air pollution blows all the way to our west coast, it seems like encouraging them is a net good to us.
And there’s still one more over arching reason to do this, national security through energy self reliance, that is China’s unstated and maybe most important goal. And why isn’t it ours? Self-reliance through fossil fuel is never possible, 60 years of claims elect me to fix it proves it can’t be done. Like China we should be jumping all over Obama’s goal. Screw the politics and oil wars. But the GOP will try to kill this agreement. All over the world in the last 2 weeks other countries are saying or hinting at getting on board, all but Putin’s Russia. Is that the partner the GOP wants in their fight to kill clean energy, Putin? Really?