Pay China to not burn coal

  • #1
Ivan Seeking
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Fareed Zakaria, the former host of Foreign Exchange, on PBS, made about the silliest statement that I've ever heard from a PBS news show host [maybe this is why he recently stopped hosting the show - he got canned as a kook]. He argues that if we don't pay China to not burn coal, they will burn coal, so we should pay them.

David Gergen rolled his eyes and asked how it would go over with the US auto workers if we can fund China, but not them. I, on the other hand, nearly choked to death on my coffee.

But the heart of his point is valid. What good does it do for the US and the rest of the world to reduce CO2 emissions when China is building a new coal power plant every two weeks? Does China intend to be the world's environmental tyrant?

All products imported from China should be taxed severely for environmental damages.
 
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  • #2
BobG
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Hence, the crux of the problem.

The Earth can't take the abuse of having every country in the world live like Americans.

On the other hand, is it fair to tell China that it's people have to live a third world life style? China is improving the economic well being of its people the cheapest way it knows how.

In fact, I think that's why the environment was included in that show as one of the toughest challenges facing the next President. There isn't a very good or fair solution.
 
  • #3
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He argues that if we don't pay China to not burn coal, they will burn coal, so we should pay them.


Will we be borrowing the money from China, to pay China?
 
  • #4
Ivan Seeking
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So it would seem. :biggrin: Maybe it would make more sense to spend that money on energy independence so that we can reduce the trade deficit by 60%.

Given that China steals everything anyway, let's give them something good to steal.
 
  • #5
Ivan Seeking
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Hence, the crux of the problem.

The Earth can't take the abuse of having every country in the world live like Americans.

On the other hand, is it fair to tell China that it's people have to live a third world life style? China is improving the economic well being of its people the cheapest way it knows how.

In fact, I think that's why the environment was included in that show as one of the toughest challenges facing the next President. There isn't a very good or fair solution.

I understand that they are trying to climb out of a hole. But there has to be incentive for change, and not by simply giving them money borrowed from them.

Our trade policy is the biggest suckers game I've ever seen! Unless we all play by the same rules [environment, labor, quality controls, etc] it is not a free [competitive] market. So the only way to compensate and provide incentives for change is to tax imports based on the disparities between the US manufacturing base, and that of the country of origin for a given product.
 
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  • #6
lisab
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He argues that if we don't pay China to not burn coal, they will burn coal, so we should pay them.

How can I get in on this? I'll not burn coal, if someone pays me not to.
 
  • #7
Yeah, that's dumb. It's not like China reviewed a bunch of different energy options and chose coal. It's more complex than that. They're building all of the nuclear power plants and buying all the uranium from Australia they possibly can already. A major reason why coal is used so much is that it's often the only energy resource that can be acquired nearby and delivered practically (i.e. with giant dump trucks) especially in many of the more outlying provinces. We'd have to do more than simply pay them a little more to do something else, we'd have to build them an entire energy distribution infrastructure for whatever we want them to use. Like a natural gas pipeline system, for example (not to mention new natural-gas-fired power plants.
 
  • #8
Art
Funny but true - China are accidentally reducing their CO2 emissions through power outages.

To manage inflation the Chinese gov't imposed price controls on diesel and as the price of oil rose the gov't mandated selling price was lower than the purchase price of raw oil and so not surprisingly the fuel suppliers refused to sell fuel so the trucks which carry the coal to the power plants couldn't run leading to shortages of coal at the power plants which in turn led to power cuts and higher prices for electricity. To fix this the gov't set a fixed price for electricity and as this didn't cover the cost of the now far more expensive coal the power plants wouldn't buy coal to produce power at a loss leading to more power cuts.

Well at least no-one can question the Chinese govt's commitment to CO2 reduction albeit in a somewhat circuitous fashion. :biggrin:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/24/b...75690f5b2f3c5e&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
 
  • #9
DrClapeyron
China is payed regardless of whether they burn coal or not. The incentive however upon payment is to not burn coal and instead purchase alternatives like oil.
 
  • #10
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A couple of years back, I built a couple combustion analyzers for Chinese coal. The stuff is fairly low BTU with lots of ?? in it, so they are apt to make more pollution than a typical American coal-fired power plant. Probably the best answer now is to support the heck out of their nuclear program.
 
  • #11
russ_watters
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On the other hand, is it fair to tell China that it's people have to live a third world life style? China is improving the economic well being of its people the cheapest way it knows how.

In fact, I think that's why the environment was included in that show as one of the toughest challenges facing the next President. There isn't a very good or fair solution.
There is a precedent for this in the way CFCs were phased-out. China, like with CFCs, gets the benefit of hindsight and technology that the rest of the world didn't have when they industrialized. That's not an insignificant advantage - which should bring with it some responsibility.

Yes, it will slow their development, but it will help even them in the long run by avoiding the environmental devistation they are currently racing toward. Whether China follows it or not, today's world lives on a principle of individual rights, not the utilitarian principle. With the quantity of pollution they are putting out, China is currently raising up some at the expense of others even in their own country. And frankly, that's a bigger issue - their government makes it so that while some people get power, others get black snow. But there is much more to it than that. The overall problem is that their government is preventing development as much as they are facilitating it.
 
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  • #12
russ_watters
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How can I get in on this? I'll not burn coal, if someone pays me not to.
Go buy yourself a bunch of land, then get the government to pay you not to grow crops on it. Same diff.
 
  • #13
Moonbear
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Go buy yourself a bunch of land, then get the government to pay you not to grow crops on it. Same diff.

Can I get paid not to grow crops on the land, and not to mine coal under the ground, and not to burn that coal that might somehow leap out of the ground? If so, I have a whole state full of people here who might be interested in whatever they're offering.
 
  • #14
Ivan Seeking
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There is a precedent for this in the way CFCs were phased-out. China, like with CFCs, gets the benefit of hindsight and technology that the rest of the world didn't have when they industrialized. That's not an insignificant advantage - which should bring with it some responsibility.

Yes, it will slow their development, but it will help even them in the long run by avoiding the environmental devistation they are currently racing toward. Whether China follows it or not, today's world lives on a principle of individual rights, not the utilitarian principle. With the quantity of pollution they are putting out, China is currently raising up some at the expense of others even in their own country. And frankly, that's a bigger issue - their government makes it so that while some people get power, others get black snow. But there is much more to it than that. The overall problem is that their government is preventing development as much as they are facilitating it.

For once Russ and I are 100% in agreement. That alone should scare the hell out of China! :biggrin:
 

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