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The following post comes courtesy of Sinosphere, the China blog for The New York Times. Like a flower poking out of the cracked pavement of a concrete jungle, this is another hopeful sign that ‘The Greening of Asia” is starting to blossom.
Q & A with Author Mark Clifford on “The Greening of Asia”
By Ian Johnson from Sinosphere, May 5, 2015 3:21am
A technician at Yingli Solar checks a solar panel on a production line at the company’s headquarters in Baoding, Hebei Province. Credit Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
After 20 years in Asia as a journalist, Mark Clifford took over as executive director of the Hong Kong-based Asia Business Council in 2007. His new book, “The Greening of Asia: The Business Case for Solving Asia’s Environmental Emergency,” explores how Asian companies are making strides in providing environmental solutions. China is a special focus because of the country’s huge emissions of carbon, but also because of its potential for innovation.
Mark Clifford.Credit Courtesy of Mark Clifford
In an interview, Mr. Clifford discussed the need to link businesses, governments and nongovernmental organizations to fight climate change:
Q.: How did you get interested in this topic?
A: I joined the Council in 2007 and inherited an almost-finished study on green buildings. That was pretty exotic in Asia back then, and we published a book on it. It got me thinking about the topic.
Q: Your angle is a bit more hopeful than some. Tell us how that came to be.
A: Originally, I thought I’d do a book along the lines of “The East Is Black.” And we do have an emergency here. In China, 1.2 million a year are dying prematurely. People need to know how bad it is, but then I got to thinking that this was pretty obvious. Instead, I thought that there are these much more positive responses underway, and people should know about them. The business community, which takes challenges and solves problems, was involved. So it is unabashedly a glass-half-full book, but that’s because it’s important to know there’s a way out. We can despair, we can do nothing, or we can work to solve one of the greatest challenges of our time.
Q; Do you see business being the main player in solving the issue?
A: No, it’s part of the solution. There has to be a three-legged stool of government, civil society and business, and each has to bring its strengths to the table. Only governments have the power to set rules — the laws and regulations, of course, but also the prices in the forms of taxes and subsidies as well as facilitating infrastructure developments. Media and NGOs make sure that business and government are doing what they promise.
Q: What was most surprising is how many companies are doing this in one form or another.
A: Yes, in the book I profile more than a dozen companies at length but also have an appendix of more than 50 companies that are involved with a variety of environmental initiatives. It was surprising to me what’s going on at the corporate level, but they’re doing things for good business reasons. Some are for the P.R. effect, but most look at it as necessary for survival.
Q: You focused one chapter on Hong Kong’s CLP Holdings, the electric power company.
A: Their work really sparked this project. In 2007, the then-chief executive, Andrew Brandler, announced that by mid-century, they would cut the carbon intensity of their electricity production by 75 percent. This pledge by one of Asia’s biggest private utilities — mostly coal-fired power plants — to effectively decarbonize by mid-century is unparalleled globally. I think this stems from the Kadoorie family, which owns a major stake in CLP. Michael Kadoorie challenges his top management to look at 50-year horizons. They do this for good reasons. They’re traditionally a coal-burning utility, but they think that this isn’t a good business model in 50 years.
Other companies think that water is underpriced, and in the future, it will be more realistically priced. Carbon also is underpriced, and other companies want to be ready for when it’s changed. But not all companies have long-term visions.To reach them, you need the other two legs of the stool. You need good, strong government policy, and you need NGOs to hold people accountable.
Q: What countries have had good policies?
A: Singapore has done an exemplary job. They decided very early on that water is of existential threat to the nation. So they have taken very firm policies, and it gives companies a form of certainty about costs.Not every country has the capacity that Singapore’s administration has, and it’s a small place with a forward-thinking government. It’s much harder in big countries like China and India, which are more fragmented.
Q: You have a lot on China.
A: The good news is we have good policies coming down from the top levels of the Chinese government. Where China continues to struggle is the implementation at the ground level. There’s not always enforcement, and there’s no civil society to act as a check. The time when China decides that the environment and energy issues are as much of a threat as the color revolutions were, or the Hong Kong protests were last year, that’s when we’ll know we have serious progress. We’ve seen with Chai Jing [whose popular documentary film on the environment, “Under the Dome,” was banned] that civil society is muted.
Q: We read a lot about air pollution, but you also think that water is crucial.
A: Increasingly, water is a hard-stop issue. Air pollution is horrible, but most people affected by it are still living. But no one can live without water. I don’t know what people will do when the water stops. In China, projects like the South-North Water Diversion Project just delay the day of reckoning. What concerns me is that even most otherwise far-sighted governments are not facing up to the challenges. For example, what do you do if you’re a municipal official, and you have an industry, say semi-conductors, which uses a lot of water? What do you do when you have to make a choice: water for the factory or the town? These are the kinds of choices that aren’t going to happen today or tomorrow, but governments will face this.
Q: And yet there are signs of hope in China.
A: China is about to overtake Germany as having the largest amount of installed solar power capability. It also has large wind turbine facilities. All of this is important because China burns half the world’s coal and accounts for 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions. So to fix China, we need to cut coal use. Coal is supposed to peak in 2030, but it could happen a lot faster. So these are huge challenges, but China is potentially further ahead than many people realize.
Hard to believe? Here’s the data behind it. Three cheers for water!
The summer’s over and the new work-year has begun. No better way to kick it off than with a reprise of our summer’s big news — China Partnership of Greater Philadelphia and the City of Philadelphia were recognized at the annual high-level U.S.-China talks in Beijing this summer with one of six new U.S.-China EcoPartnerships. Our partner is the Tianjin Economic-technological Development Area or TEDA. Our PHL-TEDA EcoPartnership focuses on funded projects in Tianjin for smartgrid online monitoring systems (OMS), wetlands urban water management (WUWM), and green building energy efficiency (GBEE).
Front row (from right to left) China’s State Councilor Jiechi Yang , Sec of State Kerry, Amb. Baucus & Counselor to the President, John Podesta
In other posts to follow, I’ll share some more background on what the five-year old U.S.-China EcoPartnership program is (and why it matters), give thumbnails on the other five EcoPartnership awardees in 2014, and provide a listing of the twenty-four active EcoPartners since the inauguration of the program in 2014.
In the meanwhile, here are links publicizing our new three-year PHL-TEDA EcoPartnership:
Secretary Kerry remarks at July 10th EcoPartnership signing ceremony
City of Philadelphia Press Release (on City’s blog)
City of Philadelphia Press Release (on City Facebook page)
Happy Year of the Snake!
I have some major catching up to do so let me begin here with a link to my book which the Wilson Center launched on September 24, 2012. (Note: if you want to download the PDF of the book, just right-click and use the Save As option).
More 2012/3 updates to follow in rapid sequence.
Thanks for hanging in there,
Thanks to everyone for their support in 2011 and my best wishes for your health and happiness in 2012!
The U.S./China Clean Energy blog ends the year with close to six thousand views, a level I believe can increase several fold next year following the January 2012 release of Sustaining U.S.-China Cooperation in Clean Energy by the Kissinger Institute of the Woodrow Wilson Center (WashDC).
I’ll close out the year by giving you this preview of Cooketop News, my Paper.Li aggregator providing “front-burner” updates about the U.S. Mid-Atlantic connection and “hot” insights on clean energy technology, investment and policy. Okay, I’ll remove tongue from cheek now. More prosaically, Cooketop News will be hitting the Internet airwaves on a regular daily basis (Mon-Fri) starting Monday, January 2nd. A summary of top stories will then be provided each week in a Friday post here on U.S./China Clean Energy along with personal observations about what impact the weeks events are having on ‘U.S.-China sustainability’ trends.
Here is the summary of stories from this week’s trial run:
Monday, December 26, 2011
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Friday, December 30, 2011
That’s it for 2011! Enjoy an exhilarating slide into 2012 and I’ll look forward to seeing you on the other side of New Year’s Day. Best wishes for the new year!
Philadelphia enjoys key advantages in the emerging national clean economy, not least due to its linchpin position at the heart of a vibrant clean energy ‘super-corridor’ running from Albany NY and Boston MA down to Washington DC and northern Virginia (see Monday’s post).
Other advantages that Greater Philadelphia enjoys include: (1) its position as #5 top-performing cluster nationally, (2) its participation in a national trajectory of fast-growing, high-quality jobs, (3) its profile of balance with middle-skill, middle-wage ‘green collar’ jobs; (4) its breadth of clean economy segments (air & water purification, lighting, nuclear, mass transit, professional energy services, solar PV, solar thermal, and wind); and (5) its being home to the U.S. Government’s new Energy Innovation Hub (EIH) and Energy Regional Innovation Center (e-RIC) at the Navy Yard — the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster (GPIC) for Building Energy Efficiency.
What’s the basis of the Greater Philadelphia’s #5 ranking nationally in the Brookings’ first-of-a-kind study Sizing the Clean Economy: A Green Jobs Report released in July 2011? There are five strong reasons, each covered with substantive detail, in the following mini-slideshow:
Tomorrow’s post will focus on the breadth of clean energy segments supporting Greater Philadelphia’s position as a leader among U.S. regional clean energy clusters.
If you want to help make a small push for Philadelphia’s emergence as a 21st century clean energy leader, please tweet or Like on Facebook or +1 this on G+, using the sharing tool below. This will help spread the word. Thanks.
Yesterday’s mini-slide show focused on the five principal clusters in the northeast Clean Energy super-corridor:
- Albany -Schenectady-Troy, NY
- Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH
- New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA
- Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
- Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD,WV
Today’s mini-deck focuses on how the clusters in this super-corridor are creating the right kind of jobs for today’s globally-connected economy:
The findings presented above and in posts throughout the week come from Brookings’ Sizing the Clean Economy: A Green Jobs Report released in July 2011. The PowerPoint slides are courtesy of Mark Muro, Deputy Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution. The video clip is extracted from Philadelphia’s 21st century Clean Energy Opportunity from Regional, National & Global Perspective, a program I organized in cooperation with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and the T.C. Chan Center for Building Simulation & Energy Studies on October 11, 2011). I am grateful to Mark Muro and Brookings for permission to share these slides with the readership of U.S./China Clean Energy.
If you want to help push for the emergence of any of these five cluster regions as national and global clean energy leaders, please consider tweeting us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or +1’ing us on G+, using the sharing tool below. Thanks.
This week, I’ll be providing five mini-slideshows to add context and substantive detail to last week’s post and video clip on Brookings Touts Philadelphia’s Top 5 Strengths in U.S. Clean Economy.
Number 1 in the docket is the Cleantech Mega-Cluster stretching from New England though the southern Mid-Atlantic — with Philadelphia at its center.
The findings for today’s slideshow, as well as those for the remainder of the week, come from Brookings’ Sizing the Clean Economy: A Green Jobs Report released in July 2011. The PowerPoint slides are courtesy of Mark Muro, Deputy Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution. The video clip is extracted from Philadelphia’s 21st century Clean Energy Opportunity from Regional, National & Global Perspective, a program I organized in cooperation with the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and the T.C. Chan Center for Building Simulation & Energy Studies on October 11, 2011). I am grateful to Mark Muro and Brookings for permission to share these slides with the readership of U.S./China Clean Energy.
If you want to be sure you see this week’s series of posts, please click the “Follow” button on the WordPress toolbar immediately above this blog’s heading and an email will automatically be sent to you as soon as each post appears.
I was asked during the UNEP Symposium in Philadelphia yesterday how I thought shale gas and ‘tight gas’ projects — which are at an early stage of operation in various parts of the world such as the United States, China and Argentina — may affect the development of existing renewable energy sources, such as geothermal, biomass, wind, solar, tidal.
There are different dynamics in advanced economies versus emerging economies as each responds to the shale gas opportunity.
In the advanced economies, the values framework for evaluating shale gas tends to emphasize the environment at the expense of economics. This is the so-called “3 C’s” orientation of carbon and climate change. Under this framework, shale and tight gas are only somewhat less carbon-intensive in comparison with traditional fossil fuel sources and their extraction entails media-ampliflied but not yet proven environmental risks associated with ‘fracking’ et cetera.
In the developing world, the tendency is instead to focus on economic and energy security benefits — the “3 E’s” of economics and energy exploitation. From this viewpoint, the positives of shale gas — a relatively cheap and abundant and lower carbon energy source for a country like China — far outweigh negatives of as yet unproven environmental risk. In any case, under the Chinese framework of development, industrial growth and wealth creation come first, and clean-up from the environmental impacts of fast growth come later.
The hard truth is that these the viewpoints in North America and East Asia should not be so divergent. In a world of finite resources and global pollution, we can ill afford to be seeing different problems and talking past one another. The common denominator and linchpin is long-term energy efficiency . Efficient energy utilization is environmental stewardship at the same time that it is good business and the basis for good economic policy. Efficient and diversified energy utilization promotes jobs, investment and a sustainable environment. Neither the advanced world nor the developing world should be sequencing energy and environmental policy or prioritizing between them. Both the U.S. and China could be pursuing a common approach, based on energy efficiency and designed to yield both economic and environmental benefits simultaneously.
By splitting the difference between the “3 C’s” and the ‘3 E’s” both countries could reframe the challenge as the “3 D’s” of diversified energy sources, dollar-accountability, and developmental sustainability. And by re-framing objectives on a realistic and common basis, strategic efforts such as the U.S.-China Shale Gas Resource Initiative may be able to get better global traction.
In the real world, it’s not shale gas versus renewables. It’s shale gas and renewables balanced together for economic and environmental sustainability.
The following post was co-authored by Shawn Lesser (Watershed Capital Group) and me and appeared initially on the Cleantechies blog:
A number of the cleantech efforts between the United States and China reflect the need for cooperation on issues surrounding climate change and clean energy as it is a major factor in the relations of these two countries. Although there are still issues to resolve in many of the collaborations, it is believed that if the United States and China can continue in their cleantech collaborations, that it will show the world that two major players on the international platform are serious about combating the challenge of climate change, and it will also encourage other countries to create alliances. Through collaboration, the two largest greenhouse gas emitters will be able to create technologies required to combat climate change. Not only that, but tangible benefits will be developed, not just for the United States and China, but the world as a whole.
1) United States – China Ten Year Framework for Cooperation on Energy and Environment was established in 2008, and it “facilitates the exchange of information and best practices to foster innovation and develop solutions to the pressing environment and energy challenges both countries face.” It also led to the creation of “EcoPartnerships” – a way to encourage both United States and Chinese stakeholders to strengthen their commitment to sustainable economic development within the local level.
2) United States – China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) has its main headquarters in both countries. It will facilitate research and development of technology by a team of leading scientists and engineers in the clean technology industry. The research center receives both private and public funding which is split evenly for each country. The initial research priorities of the United States – China Clean Energy Research Center includes building energy efficiency, clean vehicles, and clean coal, which includes carbon capture and storage. It was founded in 2009 by United States President Barak Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao. The goal of the research center is to “build a foundation of knowledge, technologies, human capabilities, and relationships in mutually beneficial areas that will position the United States and China for a future with very low energy intensity and highly efficient multi-family residential and commercial buildings.”
3) United States – China Energy-Efficient Buildings (CERC-EEB) Action Plan enables the United States and China to work alongside the private sector in an effort to develop energy efficient rating systems and building codes, benchmark industry energy efficiency, provide training to building inspectors as well as energy efficiency auditors at industrial facilities, synchronize test procedures and performance metrics for consumer products that are energy efficient, exchange energy efficient labeling systems best practices, and assemble a new annual United States – China Energy Efficiency Forum. The action plan will be achieved through green building and communities, industrial energy efficiency, consumer products standards, advanced energy efficiency technology, and public and private engagement.
4) United States – China Electric Vehicles (CERC-EV) Initiative builds upon the previous United States – China Electric Vehicle Forum which was held in 2009. The initiative comes from the shared interest in increasing the utilization of electric vehicles to decrease oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions, while promoting viable economic growth. This initiative includes a joint standard in development, demonstration projects in multiple cities in each country, technical road mapping, as well as projects to provide the public with more information.
5) 21st Century Coal Program (CERC-ACTV) promotes a cleaner use of coal resources, such as large-scale carbon capture and storage projects. The program calls for collaboration between a number of companies in the United States, including General Electric, AES, and Peabody Energy, which will be working with a number of Chinese companies to develop an integrated gasification combined cycle power plants, methane capture, as well as a number of other technologies.
6) China Greentech Initiative was founded in 2008 and has rapidly grown to become the only China-international collaboration platform of 100+ organizations, focused on identifying, developing and promoting green technology solutions in China. CGTI released its first free public deliverable, The China Greentech Report at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China in 2009. With over 50,000 copies in use, the report is commonly referred to as the ‘primer’ by which to understand China’s greentech markets.
7) United States Alliances in Chinese Cleantech Industry includes the availability of a number of United States cleantech companies to invest into the Chinese cleantech industry. Currently, many companies from the United States are finding opportunities through alliances and cleantech and capital technology transfer investments. This leads to an increase in opportunities to assist cleantech into becoming one of the largest industries on a global platform. There has been much in the way of cross-border collaboration in many cleantech sectors, including solar and wind generation, water technologies, smart grid infrastructures, and electric transportation.
8 ) United States – China Renewable Energy Partnership develops roadmaps for widespread and continual renewable energy research, development and deployment in the United States and China, including renewable energy road mapping, regional deployment solutions, grid modernization, advanced renewable energy technology research and development collaboration in advanced biofuels, wind, and solar technologies, and public-private engagement to promote renewable energy and expand bilateral trade and investment via a new United States – China Renewable Energy Forum held annually. In connection with the U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership, another important area of U.S.-China cooperation is the Shale Gas Initiative.
9) United States – China Energy Cooperation Program describes itself as the only non-governmental organization that focuses on the United States – China business development within the clean energy sector. The partnership’s purpose is to “promote commercially viable project development work in clean energy and energy efficiency, and support the sustainable development of the energy sectors in both countries.” It was founded in Beijing in 2009, initiative by the United States commercial sector, and provides a vehicle allowing companies from both countries to work together and pursue clean sector market opportunities, address any trade impediments, and increase sustainable development.
10) Key U.S.-China Regional Cooperation Initiatives. An important layer of ‘connectivity’ in the U.S.-China clean energy business landscape is provided by long-standing, regionally-based cooperative initiatives. Top among these are the U.S.-China Green Energy Council (based in the Bay Area), the U.S.-China Clean Energy Forum (based in Greater Seattle with a Washington DC presence), and the Joint U.S.-China Cooperation on Clean Energy (based in Beijing, Shanghai and Washington DC).
Article by Shawn Lesser & Terry Cooke.
Shawn is president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A. He is also a co- founder of the Global Cleantech Cluster Association (GCCA), and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Terry Cooke is Strategic Advisor for Global Partnerships for the Global Cleantech Cluster Association (GCCA). He is also a 2010 Public Policy Scholar on U.S.-China Clean Energy at the Woodrow Wilson Center and author of the forthcoming Sustaining U.S.-China Clean Energy Cooperation being published by the Kissinger Institute of the Wooldrow Wilson Center. His website is www.terrycooke.com .