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What Stern said about China (part one)

A landmark review of the economics of climate change cites Beijing’s ambitious policies on greenhouse gases, but says much more needs to be done. Maryann Bird sifts through the report.

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The job of the Stern Review: The Economics of Climate Change, released in London on 30 October 2006, was to assess the economics of moving to a low-carbon global economy, the potential of different adaptation approaches and the specific lessons for the UK. Although it was commissioned by the British government – back in July 2005 – Nicholas Stern’s report takes a necessary international perspective. Indeed, the former chief economist for the World Bank and members of his team visited numerous countries and institutions in the course of their inquiry.

One of their stops was China, the emerging global giant which could hardly have been overlooked in such a study. (A short version of the review’s executive summary has already been published in Chinese.) China was cited among the countries and regions already taking action and which have “the most ambitious policies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions”. But more ambitious action is now required, globally.

In its executive summary, the review stated that, on current trends, average global temperatures will rise by 2 to 3º C within the next 50 years or so. If greenhouse-gas emissions continue to grow, this global warming will have many severe impacts. “Melting glaciers will initially increase flood risk,” the report said, “and then strongly reduce water supplies, eventually threatening one-sixth of the world’s population, predominantly in the Indian sub-continent, parts of China and the Andes in South America.” One-sixth of the global population, today, is over one billion people.

Discussing -- in a section on the impacts of climate change on growth and development -- how climate change will affect people around the world, the document warned: “Climate change will have serious consequences for people who depend heavily on glacier meltwater to maintain supplies during the dry season.” That would affect some 250 million people in China, given that 23% of the country’s population “lives in the western region that depends principally on glacier meltwater. Virtually all glaciers are showing substantial melting in China, where spring stream-flows have advanced by nearly one month since records began.”

 “Initially, water flows may increase in the spring as the glacier melts more rapidly. This may increase the risk of damaging glacial lake outburst floods, especially in the Himalayas, and also lead to shortages later in the year. In the long run, dry-season water will disappear permanently once the glacier has completely melted.” Glacial lake outburst floods are described as catastrophic discharges of large volumes of water following the breach of the natural dams that contain glacial lakes – and China’s neighbour Nepal is considered particularly vulnerable.

On the key issue of food, the report stated that production will be particularly sensitive to climate change; in large part, crop yields depend on prevailing climate conditions – temperature and rainfall. In tropical regions, Stern says, “even small amounts of warming will lead to declines in yield. In higher latitudes, crop yields may increase initially for moderate increases in temperature, but then fall. Higher temperatures will lead to substantial declines in cereal production around the world.” In some parts of China, “low levels of warming in mid to high latitudes may improve the conditions for crop growth by extending the growing season and/or opening up new areas for agriculture. Further warming will have increasingly negative impacts … as damaging temperature thresholds are reached more often and water shortages limit growth.”

The economic and social consequences may well prove catastrophic: agriculture takes up 40% of the planet’s land area, accounts for 24% of world economic output, and employs 22% of the global population. And Stern adds, 75% of the poorest people in the world rely on agriculture for their livelihood.

Additionally, sea-level rise as a result of global warming will “increase coastal flooding, raise costs of coastal protection, lead to loss of wetlands and coastal erosion, and increase saltwater intrusion into surface and groundwater.” Rising sea levels, which began in the last century, will “increase the amount of land lost and people displaced due to permanent inundation”. Coastal areas are not only densely populated – 200 million people reside in coastal floodplains worldwide -- but they also support important ecosystems on which local communities depend. And they often also are home to critical infrastructure projects, including oil refineries, nuclear power stations and port and industrial facilities.

Many of the world’s major cities, including Shanghai, are at risk of flooding from coastal surges. In addition to these coastal areas’ populations, some two million square kilometres of land and $1 trillion in assets exist less than one metre above current sea level. Those most vulnerable live in south and east Asia, along the African coast and on small islands. Estimates of the number of global environmental refugees by 2050 extend as high as 200 million.

Development – and poverty reduction – is threatened by climate change. Climate models predict a range of (chiefly) negative impacts on developing countries, from a decline in agricultural output and food security to a loss of vital river flows. While climatic patterns vary significantly across a country as large as China, its average surface air temperature has risen by between 0.5 and 0.8º C over the 20th century; the increases have been more noted in northern China and the Tibetan plateau than in the south.

“Temperature rise will lead to temperate zones in China moving north,” the review states, “as well as an extension of arid regions. Cities such as Shanghai are expected to experience an increase in the frequency and severity of heat waves causing significant discomfort to fast-growing urban populations.”

In addition to existing water shortages in China, water scarcity is expected to grow more critical, particularly in such northern provinces as Ningxia, Gansu, Shanxi and Jilin – exacerbated by economic and population growth. In the next 50 to 100 years, though, an increase in average rainfall in southern provinces – including Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangxi – is expected to lead to more flooding, which will bite into the country’s GDP. Agricultural output and productivity across different regions will vary as a result of climate change, depending on water availability. Overall, a net decrease is anticipated in seven northern and north-western provinces deemed particularly vulnerable (accounting for roughly 25% of total arable land and 14% of China’s total agricultural output by value).

Projecting the growth of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions linked to climate change, the report says that most future rise will come from today’s developing countries and their energy-intensive industries. By 2030, China alone is expected to account for more than one third of the increase. The generation of power and heat (used mostly by domestic and commercial buildings and by industry) has been the fastest-growing source of emissions worldwide, growing by 2.2% per year between 1990 and 2002. By the end of this decade, China’s emissions are likely to overtake those of the United States, driven partly by its heavy use of coal.

Additionally, says the report: “Population growth rates will be higher among the developing countries, which are also likely in aggregate to have more rapid emissions growth per head. This means that emissions in the developing world will grow significantly faster than in the developed world, requiring a still sharper focus on emissions abatement in the larger economies like China, India and Brazil.”

Stern found that, in the case of climate change, some types of pollution which usually decline with rising income levels do not occur. “At a global level, there has been little evidence of large voluntary reductions in emissions as a result of consumers’ desire to reduce emissions as they become richer” – although “this may change as people’s understanding of climate-change risks improves.” Furthermore, with the relocation of manufacturing to developing countries, the shift within richer nations has less impact on total emissions. And, as incomes rise, the demand for air and car transport as well as some other carbon-intensive goods and services will keep growing.

Globally, says the report, “in the absence of policy interventions, the long-run positive relationship between income growth and emissions per head is likely to persist. Breaking the link requires significant changes in preferences, relative prices of carbon-intensive goods and services and/or breaks in technological trends.” Stern sees such change as possible “with appropriate policies”. Without them, though, “incremental improvements in efficiency alone will not overwhelm the income effect. For example, a review of projections for China carried out for the Stern Review suggests that energy demand is very like to increase substantially in ‘business as usual’ scenarios, despite major reductions in energy intensity.”

Stern also determined that increasing the levels of carbon finance -- the resources provided to purchase GHG emission reductions – for developing countries, to support effective GHG-cutting policies and programmes, would speed up the transition to a low-carbon economy. The review noted that developing countries already are “taking significant action to decouple their economic growth” from GHG growth. For example, “China has adopted very ambitious domestic goals to reduce energy used for each unit of GDP by 20% from 2006-2010 and to promote the use of renewable energy.”

 

Maryann Bird is a London-based journalist with a special interest in environmental and human-rights issues. A writer and editor, she was previously a staff member at Time magazine (Europe), The Independent, the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times.

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评论 comments

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

环境及经济合为一体

斯特恩报告很重要,因为它表示中国环境及经济就是两件相辅相成,一模一样的事情。如果中国和全世界想进步,我们就需要改变我们经济的增长方式。

Environomy

Stern is important because it demonstrates that the environment and the Chinese economy are mutually constituted, that they are one and the same. For China or the rest of the world to move forward we must change the way our economies grow.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

如何将斯特恩的观点转变成行动?

斯特恩的观点详尽的讨论了在气候变化方面我们所面临的问题和当今存在的情况,但没有深入探讨这些问题背后的本质原因,因而也没有指出我们该怎么做来筛选归纳出这些问题。我认为,我们所要做的不仅仅是罗列出气候变化这种现象,还要提出切实的解决办法和人们应该承担的义务,尤其是对发达国家。从发达国家到发展中国家,制造业的变更以及其他一些类似的全球化进程,导致了如今各国对气候变化所需承担责任的不均衡局面。“中国制造”并不只是中国的问题,而是一个全球问题。在当今的英联邦国家里,几乎所有的产品都是从海外进口,包括从南美洲进口的生吃小洋葱以及其他一些英格兰本土也可以种植的普通蔬菜。如此以来就能知道,在这些送往英格兰货物的运送途中,会有多少污物排量。谴责发展中国家排污量大是不公平的。即使这是事实,发展中国家也不是发达国家的替罪羊。如果那些富裕的国家真切地关心这个星球的未来,他们现在就应该采取行动找出他们自己国家的排污问题,同时,他们也有责任帮助那些因他们而遭受影响的发展中国家找出问题。如今,我们真的需要更多的考虑全球化所带来的深重影响,更多的考虑发达国家对待气候变化的态度。要解决气候变化问题,就必须要进行全球体制改革,需要行动起来。

How to turn the Stern Review into action?!

The Stern review does detail the issues and the situation we are facing to deal with climate change, but it fails to explore the reasons behind these problems, thus it fails also to point out what we should do to sort out the problems.

I think what we need today is not only the revealment of climate change problems, but also the actual solutions and commitment, especially those from developed countries.

The relocation of manufacturers from developed countries to developing ones, and other similiar globalization drives, leads to today's unequal responsibility to our common climate change problems.

"Made in China" is not a problem of China, but globally.

Today in the UK,nearly all products are imported overseas, including spring onion from South America and other common vegetable which could be grown in England. So you know how the transport of the goods to England causes emission.

It is unfair to blame developing countries for large amount of emission, even it is true. Developing countries should not be treated as
scapegoat of developed countries. If rich countries do care about the future of this planet, they need take actions now to sort out their own emission problems, and also are responsible to help sort out emission problems in developing countries which the rich countries have caused.

Today we do need think more about the impact of globalization and the living styles of developed countries upon the climate change.

To tackle climate change needs the transformation of the global system, it needs action.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

“评击供应者”

毒品使用政策, 特别是美国的, 自古以来只埋怨哥伦比亚或者阿富汗对毒品的生产, 而不从自己社会对毒品需求的角度来探讨这个问题。这个问题同样在碳排放中存在, 对于只“评击供应者” 是不合理的。无论产品在什么地方生产,大量的消费都是在富裕的西方国家。这些消费国家应该来感受碳污染带来的痛苦。

"shoot the supplier"

drug enforcement policy, especially the US's, has for a long time tried to blame Columbians or Afghans for producing drugs, rather than looked at the problem from the point of view of its own society that produces a need for drugs.

same with carbon. it is very inefficient to "shoot the supplier"; instead, the consumer of the bad substance - here carbon - should be made to feel the pain. Most of that consumption is in the rich west, wherever the production may be.

Tony

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

斯特恩和中国消费者

如果我们西方世界期望中国采取措施来减少其对全球环境的影响,我们就应该认真考虑我们所期望达到的目标。斯特恩报告是在各界此起彼伏的对英国人日常生活造成大量浪费的批评报告的浪潮中应时而生的。这也许会对英国消费模式产生一定的影响,但我并不建议用同样的方式来要求中国消费者。最好的方法就是根据中国自身的特点来制定中国政府和商业能够采取的最有力方式。

Stern and the Chinese consumer

If we in the West hope that China will do something to reduce its global environmental footprint, we should think carefully about the target of our hope. The Stern Report comes on the heels of a huge wave of alarming reports coming out in the UK recently-along with news berating Britons for the wastefulness of nearly everything they do and buy. While this may be having its effect on consumption patterns here, I would not suggest it as a strategy for reaching out to Chinese consumers. Better to patiently emphasise local impacts in China itself, and the big steps that business and government can start with.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

伪装的善良

斯特恩报告,难道不是有二百年工业化历史的西方发达国家伪善地 嘱咐中国的实例吗?即便中国赶上美国成为世界上最大的污染者,这也不算是惊人的事,因为中国人口在世界上最多。更严重的问题是富有资源及财务的美国,目前作为世界上最大的污染者及最大的个人消费资源的国家。这个问题已有相当长的历史。对于用职业以摆脱贫穷的中国人,我们又该怎么说:“对不起,我们需要除掉你的工厂及工作,因为你污染得太多了。”对短期来说,这显然不是进步的道路;不过,很可能是我们十年之后才走上的中期道路。那么,中国工人该怎么办呢?难道这不是一个“个人所能,个人所需" 的道理吗?对于碳排放,这意味着美国应该立即作些牺牲来改变其生活方式,保护地球的未来,因为他们就有这个能力。欧洲国家也应当跟着美国走。中国的主要要求还是发展;在这个过程当中,别国应当促进中国的发展,并在发展导致严重污染的情况下也批评中国。可是,西方国家批评中国而不大改变自己的生活方式,不过是伪装的善良。

Preaching

Is it not a case of the west, the developed west with a 200-year history of industrialisation, preaching to China?

So what if China overtakes the US as the world's biggest polluter? That's no surprise, it's the world's most populous nation. A bigger problem is a resources- and capital-rich country, the US, currently being the world's largest polluter and the world's largest per capita consumer of resources. This has been going on for some time too.

What should one say to Chinese people whose jobs have allowed them to climb out of absolute poverty - 'I'm sorry we have to get rid of your factory and your job because you pollute too much?'

Clearly, in the short term, this could not be the way forward. But it may well be an option in the medium term, say 10 years from now. What then for Chinese workers?

Should it not be a case of 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their need'?

In terms of carbon emissions this would mean that Americans should immediately make sacrifices in lifestyle in order to protect the planet's future, because they are in a position to. They should be joined by Europeans.

China has a more pressing need to develop; and it should be encouraged in this, and criticised if that development leads to pollution.

It is hyprocritical of the west to criticise China without itself making huge changes in lifestyle right now.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

相信斯特恩还不知道

“由于发展中国家人口增长率较高,所以总体上而言,发展中国家人均排放量的增长速度也会更快。这表明发展中国家的排放速度将比发达国家快得多,因此需要更加严格关注中国、印度和巴西这类较大经济体的减排情况。”
斯特恩说得的确有一些道理。
但是,发达国家在削减温室气体排放量方面做得远远不够。不仅在环境保护科学技术的创造发明方面,在支持中国人创造的,遥遥领先于世界先进水平的烟气治理技术,尽早获得专家鉴定、应用、推广方面,也做到并不是很好。

Trusting that Stern still does not know

"Population growth rates will be higher among the developing countries, which are also likely in aggregate to have more rapid emissions growth per head. This means that emissions in the developing world will grow significantly faster than in the developed world, requiring a still sharper focus on emissions abatement in the larger economies like China, India and Brazil.”

What Stern says makes some sense. But what developed countries are doing to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions is not enough by far. They have not done well in promoting the creation of environmental protection science and technology or in the support of China creating world-leading technology to handle exhaust fumes.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

中国技术为何不能推广?

中国人能创造最先进烟气治理技术,为何不能推广?
再闻美国政府拒绝重返京都议定书,不由感慨万千。

我国污染物排放总量已经严重超过了环境承载能力。触目惊心。情况危急。
我国当前的龙头产业,如矿产、纺织、冶金、造纸、钢铁和化工等几乎全部是高耗能、高污染产业。单位GDP能耗比发达国家平均高47%,产生的污染是发达国家的几十倍。
但是,遥遥领先于世界先进水平的烟气综合治理技术及其装备制造技术,并且具有强大的污水处理功能,为什么仍然不能够发挥应有的作用?
湿式除尘、脱硫、污水处理一体化的《高效除尘脱硫装置》技术、以及装备制造技术,是具有原创性、核心性的发明创造。与目前世界上最为成熟、应用范围最为广泛的静电除尘-石灰石-石膏湿式脱硫工艺流程相比较,除尘、脱硫效率高,均可达到99.99%以上;安全投运率高,达到100%。造价可降低50%以上;运行费用可以降低50%以上;能够明显降低污水处理费用。处于遥遥领先于世界先进水平的地位。优越性极其明显。
完全可以说,没有超越数学微积分理论的突破,《高效除尘脱硫装置》的先进性、科学性和实用性,必将仍然无可相提并论。
对于环境保护的重要性、对于环境保护科学技术缺乏的无能为力,对于地方保护,对于号召民众千百万的行动起来,侃侃而言,脸不红气不喘。好!
但是,又有那些切实可行、以创新为本的,既有创新必为所用的政策推出?
开拓具有中国特色的环境保护科学技术全面发展,举措又有那些?
地球人都知道,没有切实可行、价廉物美的环境保护技术,作为强有力地行政支持,即使环保再升格,也同样无助于根除其执法疲软症、无能为力综合症。
如果,仍然不能够对于《高效除尘脱硫装置》一类的科学技术,对于其先进性、科学性、实用性进行科学的评价,仍然不能够做到既有创新必为所用,环保,就不应该为了作样子给外国人看而升格,就不应该再继续增加浪费纳税人钱财的数量了。
2001年,布什在上任时,以“对美国经济发展带来过重负担”为由,宣布退出《京都议定书》。时至2006年11月 7日开幕的联合国气候变化大会,又闻美国再次拒绝重返《京都议定书》,甚至还出现了“中国环境威胁”的论调。不由感慨万千。
我们,为什么不能够在环境保护的实质性进步方面,下实实在在的功夫呢!

[email protected]

Why isn't Chinese technology spreading?

Chinese people can create the most advanced technology to handle exhaust fumes, why can't they spread? We again hear that the U.S. government refuses to sign the Kyoto Protocol, something that makes me sigh a great deal. My country's amount of pollution emissions is already serious, having exceeded the environment's ability to bear the load. This is shocking to behold, the situation is a crisis. China's current key industries, such as minerals, textiles, metallurgy, paper-making, steel and chemicals, are all industries high on resource consumption and heavily polluting. [email protected]

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

中国的新技术

在污水处理过程中,现代仍然有许多的技术问题。比如不能在线实时监测一些水质参数,不过我们可以应用软测量技术来完善这一问题。而像人工神经网络又是软测量中的最前沿技术。相信不久以后的将来人工神经网络和软测量技术将是污水处理发展中不可或缺的部分。它将会为我国的水质建设迈向一个新的台阶。

New Technology for China

In the sewage treatment process, we are still facing a lot of technical problems. For instance, we are unable to monitor certain parameters of water quality while carry out the experiment. However, we could apply soft sensing technique to overcome this problem. Alike human neural network with added the most advance soft sensing technique. We believe that this artificial neural network and soft sensing technique will become part of the development in sewage treatment. It will bring forward our home construction of water quality towards a new platform.

Default avatar
匿名 | Anonymous

英文翻译

有些英文翻译实在不妥(太差),翻译人员应该多一些专业背景。比如:《中国新技术》编号8的评论中的“在线实时”翻译不妥;“而像人工神经网络又是软测量中的最前沿技术”这句话完全是像用翻译软件翻译的。如此翻译实在让广大关心网站的读者担忧。
——Adam

English translations

Some of the English translations are really inappropriate (awful), translators should be better equipped with industry knowledge. For example: "online real time" as translated in "China New Tech"'s no. 8 post was not rightl while the sentence "artificial neural networks is the cutting edge technology in soft measurement" sounds like it was translated entirely through some software. Translations like this are a worry to readers at this website. -- Adam