Posts Tagged ‘China’

Carbon market or carbon tax? – Give Washington a trade war carrot and stick

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

The world can reign in Trump’s America for a new security…

by Felix von Geyer

The world has been waiting since 1997 for Washington to take meaningful and effective action on climate change.

Between the tweets, statements, retractions, and double bluff surrounding double positives, discerning coherent straight lines through the scatter diagram of Trump’s bluff and vitriol political style is akin to aluminium chaff thrashed out by naval warcraft seeking to divert the honing device of enemy missiles, real or imaginery. In the wake of Manafort and Cohen, one can expect only more of the same.

More white hairs pervade Trump’s Administration than grey cells, their collective political imagination honed in a bygone time hazed with political nostalgia. As Trump’s style embraces pugilistic revisionism, so it threatens to knock the post-second world war era of international co-operation whose spirit embedded US interests and values within multi-lateral regimes that provided America permanent pole position on the world’s starting grid of international political economic order.

Now anxious the supposed Pacific Rise of China will lose America the race to win the Grand Prix of the international political and economic order makes Trump further rescind on the post-Cold War new security agenda the world urgently needs but the United States still fails to lead.

Security stopped being a nuclear military security; a deeper security agenda in the 1990s embraced environmental, political, economic and even human security once Moscow’s bankruptcy through US-inspired low oil prices ended the Cold War.

If Europe ever expected the US to take an economic hit for the sake of the environment however, then the EU had another thing coming, a former career staff US climate change policy framer told me somewhere in the wake of the economic crisis.

Ironically, a decade ago, projected climate change costs to the economy were estimated at 1.8% of US GDP by 2100. Last year, America lost 1.66% of its GDP to climate change.

Yes, eighty years early, the economic hit from the environment came ahead of schedule but Trump’s response instead liberates US coal and automotive industries from any responsibility in redressing the global issue of climate change, the issue that terrorizes humankind beyond all borders.

The reality check is that any responsibility for saving the world now lays with the rest of the world. The US government – namely Republican politicians – long ago abdicated any federal responsibility on addressing climate security. For humanity to survive, the world must save America from itself and force the US towards a new security.

In a world where power is sometimes defined as A making B do something B ordinarily would not do, that would require a big carrot and an even bigger stick.

Encouraging the United States requires a carrot. So, the world should invite Washington to roll-out a global carbon market and suggest it be traded in US dollars as with every other major commodity.

Moreover, money through a certain percentage of all trade deals, akin to a Tobin tax but only on traded carbon credits, could furnish the coffers of the United Nations climate change mitigation and adaptation funds which Hillary Clinton said would receive US$100 billion of funding per year from 2020 onward at the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference.

Yes, a global carbon market traded in US dollars would benefit the US economy, particularly the US Treasury and, the tighter the cap, the higher the price and the greater the role and strength of the US dollar. Taken a step further, a cryptocurrency hedged against the price of carbon could also be leveraged. The US dollar could see its history since 1945 shift perspective from gold to petrocurrency, now to carbon and more.

So, what if Washington fails to jump on such a generous opportunity? Simply, if the rest of the world fails to make Washington eat a fat supply of carrots for the benefit of everybody, they must transcend Trump`s bullying style.

Quite simply, impose a straightforward carbon tax against the US in place of retaliatory tariffs. Surely, the world over would applaud and support this necessary move?

Where the Trump Administration is hitting America’s traditional allies with sticks in the form of tariffs over steel and aluminium requires Canada, the EU and China to respond:- not just with a stick, but a moral staff. A new security agenda requires transcending old style politics.

Unlike Trump`s tariffs over steel and aluminium and retaliatory measures by Canada, EU and China that all likely flout World Trade Organisation rules, carbon taxes in the shape of border adjusted tariffs would be legal under WTO rules. The WTO said as much almost a decade ago in its joint WTO/United Nations Environment Program Trade and Climate Change report produced in the run up to the 2009 Copenhagen climate change conference.

Ironically, in 2009, carbon taxes or border adjusted tariffs were intended for use against developing countries like China and India to force them to address their future emissions trajectory set to outstrip current US emissions, or at least plug the so-called carbon leakage gap should countries like the US and Canada face the economic consequences of reducing their emissions while developing countries did not.

US states who have tried to lead on emissions reductions such as California’s Western Climate Initiative and the North-Eastern states’ Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, would not be able to receive exemption as the WTO only recognizes nation-states as members or entities. Therefore, a blanket carbon tax would on all US exports would be required.

Again, where the United Nations faces shortfalls in funding its Green Fund to help countries adapt to climate change under the Paris Agreement, much of the revenue from taxing US exports could be diverted accordingly.

Whether Canada as it is forced by Trump to renegotiate NAFTA can co-ordinate this policy with the EU with whom it has a recpricoal Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement and both EU and Canada share China as an important trade partner, they will need to be in consort to achieve a new security. Bringing the UK on-board who likely aim for an economic trade agreement with Washington in the event of a Brexit Britain will also be critical.

But hopefully the carrot of rolling-out a global carbon market traded in US dollars will help the Trump Administration – and Washington – refix its vision of a security agenda and transcend its current myopic view of US interests and global security.




Albertan Energy Minister strikes deal with China but Korea might move on by Felix von Geyer

Saturday, October 19th, 2013

Alberta signed a legally non-binding Moratorium of Understanding with Beijing on Friday, Albertan Energy Minister Ken Hughes told reporters via a telephone press conference, although the relationship with Korea looks more uncertain.

The MOU provides Alberta with “highly unusual access” at Chinese policy level including sharing knowledge on best practice, other technology knowledge-sharing including on carbon capture and storage, said Hughes who signed the MOU in the presence of China’s President Xi Xinping and Canada’s Governor-General David Johnston.

Hughes who had toured both South Korea and China during this visit told New Orator that China was particularly interested in Canada’s natural resources, particularly its natural gas that provided a cleaner energy option than the coal which helped create poor air quality over many areas in China through the resulting smog. Despite the new MOU, Hughes stated that it was “Too early days” to suggest any forthcoming synergy between China and Canada in combatting climate change through any shared action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

On the question of Korea’s position on using Canada as an energy provider, Hughes admitted that Korea had indicated it had “many other choices and will move on” if it cannot see Canada putting its relevant infrastructure in place. In Wednesday’s Throne Speech, federal Prime Minister Stephen Harper stated that Ottawa was keen to work with provinces such as Ontario and BC and other willing jurisdictions to establish co-operation, especially around natural resources.

In his Throne Speech, Harper stressed that Canada’s energy reserves are “vast… but we must be able to sell them,” he said, stressing the country’s infrastructure shortages at a time when there was “unprecedented demand” for its energy resources.

Hughes stated that he had been on tour with the Deputy Premier of British Columbia, Rick Coleman, and that both provinces were “completely aligned” in their need to get their products to market. British Columbia is keen to sell its LNG to South-East Asia while Alberta’s oil sands is facing a continuing struggle to have both its Keystone XL pipeline to the US sanctioned by the US government as well as a pipeline such as the Northern Gateway stretching over to the West Coast.

Addressing the fact that a combination of the US shale oil and gas boom had reduced demand for Canadian energy as much as there is doubt as to any imminent green light for the Keystone pipeline, Hughes said: “We need to get our products to somewhere other than the United States of America.”

Wind energy expands in 2011 to cover 3% of global energy demand

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

China added over forty percent of new global wind capacity in 2011 as wind turbine capacity increased fifteen percent during 2011 over 2010 levels to expand windpower a total of 42 Gigawatts during the year compared to 37.6 Gigawatts in 2010, said the World Wind Energy Association in a press release Tuesday.

The preliminary data gathered by WWEA and published to coincide with the third WE20 by 2020 conference in Coimbatore, India takes total wind capacity worldwide close to 239 Gigawatts, enough to cover 3 % of the world’s electricity demand, according to the WWEA.

China’s growth accounted for over 42% of total new capacity as they installed 18 GW of new wind turbines during 2011 taking their total wind energy capacity to 63 GW, more than a quarter of current global wind capacity.

The USA comprised the second largest market for new wind turbines at 6.8 GW, followed by India with 2.7 GW and Germany with 2 GW.

Canada expanded its capacity 1.3GW of new installed capacity during 2011 while Spain, France and Italy approximated 1 GW each.