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  • Author: Dong-Hyeok Kwon, Alistair Ritchie
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: Emissions trading systems (ETS) are increasingly being introduced as a way of cost-effectively reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet ambitious national climate change targets, including Nationally Determined Contributions and net-zero long-term goals under the Paris Agreement. A key concern for governments and industry, however, is how to protect industry’s global competitiveness and prevent “carbon leakage”, that is, the transfer of production to world regions with less ambitious climate policies that would lead to an increase in total emissions. To address this concern, ETS allowances are typically allocated for free to greenhouse gas (GHG)-intensive or trade-intensive industries at risk of carbon leakage. The type of free allocation design is important because it directly impacts on the financial performance of companies. It also determines how companies are rewarded. Those that have invested more in GHG reduction technologies will be rewarded better under a benchmark (BM)-based allocation approach, where allocation is based on the level of production multiplied by an emissions intensity benchmark. Those that have invested less in such technologies will be rewarded better under a grandfathered approach, where allocation is based on historic emissions. However, while BM-based allocation is generally regarded as a fairer method, it is also considered more difficult to design and implement. This Asia Society Policy Institute issue paper, Developing Effective Benchmark-Based Allocation for Industrial Sectors: The Case of the Korean ETS, shows how BM-based allocation has been successfully implemented for some of Korea’s most important industrial sectors, steel and petrochemicals. It provides valuable insights and recommendations for other countries to develop an effective allocation system in a timely and efficient way.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Trade, Carbon Emissions, Paris Agreement
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Daniel R. Russel, Blake Berger
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, is a massive international infrastructure program involving nearly 140 countries with over an estimated $1 trillion in projects related to energy, transportation, digital networks, and trade. Chinese leaders frame the BRI as “win-win” cooperation focused solely on development and connectivity. Beijing has gone to great lengths to minimize BRI’s links to the People’s Liberation Army and to downplay the initiative’s geostrategic overtones. Nevertheless, many governments have become worried about ulterior motives behind BRI projects, many of which have dual-use commercial-military capabilities and are increasingly connected to Chinese digital technologies and networks and satellite systems. The Asia Society Policy Institute’s – Weaponizing the Belt and Road Initiative – examines key BRI projects in the Indo-Pacific and explores relevant Chinese doctrine, the involvement of the People’s Liberation Army with BRI, and assesses the potential military and geostrategic advantages to China from BRI ports and other projects. This project is led by ASPI Vice President for International Security and Diplomacy Daniel Russel, with support from ASPI Senior Program Officer Blake Berger. The project and the report benefitted from advisement from experts and officials in Singapore, Australia, Japan, Vietnam, China, and the United States as well as to the expert advisory group whose distinguished members generously shared their time and wisdom to support this effort.
  • Topic: Development, Geopolitics, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: David B. Sandalow
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: China is the world’s leading emitter of heat-trapping gases, by far. In 2019, Chinese emissions were greater than emissions from the United States, the European Union, and Japan combined. There is no solution to climate change without China. China’s response to climate change is a study in contrasts. China leads the world in solar power, wind power, and electric vehicle deployment, but also in coal consumption. The Chinese government has adopted some of the world’s most ambitious energy efficiency and forest conservation policies, but is financing a significant expansion of coal-fired power plant capacity at home and abroad. China’s leaders are strongly committed to the Paris Agreement, but appear to attach less priority to climate change than in years past. This Issue Paper explores these contrasts. It does so at an important time in Chinese climate change policy. During the next 18 months, the Chinese government will spend heavily on economic stimulus measures, release its 14th Five-Year Plan (for 2021–2025), and develop short- and long-term climate action plans (known as its “updated nationally-determined contributions” and “mid-century strategy” in the terminology of the global U.N. climate process). Decisions by the Chinese government will reverberate globally, including in the United States. A Biden administration’s ambition in addressing climate change would be reinforced by ambition in China. This Issue Paper provides an up-to-date snapshot of China’s climate policies, drawing on data from 2019 and the beginning of 2020 (during the height of the COVID-19 economic lockdown), as well as recent remarks by Chinese leaders. It starts by examining Chinese emissions of heat-trapping gases. It then discusses China’s principal climate policies, explaining the main tools the Chinese government uses to address climate change and related topics. The Issue Paper concludes with a discussion of processes that will shape Chinese climate change policy in the years ahead.
  • Topic: Climate Change, European Union, Economy, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Europe, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel R. Russel
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: After decades of broken promises and failed diplomatic efforts, North Korea has become a nuclear power. Kim Jong Un’s charm offensive over the past year, as seen in summit meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders, has enabled him to shed his pariah status without shedding his nuclear weapons. While Kim has frozen testing, he continues to expand the country’s nuclear arsenal, defy and evade Security Council resolutions, and is now getting support from China in his call for sanctions relief. In the wake of the failed February 2019 Hanoi Summit, North Korea is warning of a return to testing by year’s end. But even if Kim were to reverse course and agree to freeze his entire nuclear and missile program, North Korea’s capacity to threaten the U.S. and its allies with a formidable arsenal would be undiminished. What’s worse, Kim seems to be turning to a powerful new weapon of mass destruction to gain leverage. Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) Vice President for International Security and Diplomacy Daniel Russel asserts in this ASPI issue paper that North Korea’s next weapon of choice is likely to be cyber: a high-impact, low-cost, and low-risk digital-age weapon that North Korea already can and does use to steal money, hack secrets, and terrorize nations. In the 5G era, developed nations such as the United States are particularly vulnerable. North Korean cyber-attacks have already succeeded in crippling critical overseas infrastructure and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars, reducing the efficacy of international sanctions. Future Scenarios: What to Expect from a Nuclear North Korea details the consequences of North Korea’s slow but steady trajectory toward acceptance as a nuclear power. The report highlights the urgency of focusing U.S. national security efforts against the threat from North Korea’s rapidly growing cyber warfare capability. Russel writes that the combined threat from North Korea’s nuclear and cyber programs can only be reduced through “coercive containment” — a multi-pronged strategy of diplomacy, defense, deterrence, and denial that will require substantial cooperation among key international players.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Nuclear Power, Cybersecurity, Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Wendy Cutler, Peter Grey, Kim Jong-Hoon, Mari Pangestu, Yoichi Sozuki, Tu Xinquan
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: The U.S.-China trade dispute has dominated headlines over the past year, disrupting trade and investment flows and increasing uncertainty at a time when the global economy is already facing headwinds. The conflict has left many countries in the Asia Pacific feeling caught in the crossfire seeking to navigate the tensions without alienating either country. While the World Trade Organization (WTO) would ideally help reduce the frictions, it has not been up to the task. The paralysis at the WTO points to a deeper problem: it’s inability to keep up with the pace of change or address the challenges of new developments in advanced technologies and the digital economy. Simply put, the trade regime is in trouble and in need of reform. At this dynamic and uncertain time in trade, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) convened a group of leading trade experts and former trade officials from across the Asia Pacific, led by ASPI Vice President Wendy Cutler. In this issue paper, the authors examine the major developments in the international trading system, including the U.S.-China trade dispute, FTA activity in the Asia Pacific, and efforts to reform the WTO. In this challenging environment, the authors find that the Asia Pacific is uniquely well-positioned to lead reforms to get the system back on track. This paper is the latest product of the ASPI initiative, “Building a High Standard and Inclusive Asia-Pacific Trade Architecture.” It builds on the work of two previous reports published in March 2017 and January 2018.
  • Topic: Economy, Trade Wars, Trade, WTO
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Wendy Cutler, Hyemin Lee
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: For nearly 70 years, the United States-Republic of Korea alliance has remained strong, built mainly on shared strategic and national security interests. While the North Korean nuclear threat has long dominated political discussions and media headlines, the economic pillar of the relationship is no less important. With amendments to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) now in place, it is an opportune time for both countries to look beyond KORUS and expand their bilateral economic engagement to new and evolving areas. This closer cooperation can serve as an engine for growth in a slowing Korean economy, as an opportunity for job creation in the United States, and as a vehicle for jointly writing the rules for the technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As policymakers in Washington and Seoul look to the future, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) charts a possible path forward in its newest issue paper, Advancing the U.S.-Korea Economic Agenda. This paper presents a range of concrete actions that the United States and South Korea can take to advance and strengthen their bilateral economic relationship in the areas of trade and investment, energy, digital economy and advanced technologies, infrastructure, and women’s economic empowerment. The recommendations included in this paper are based partly on two roundtables ASPI organized with South Korean and American experts in Seoul in June 2018, with support from the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, and in Washington, D.C., in October 2018. The ideas are also based on discussions with government officials, business leaders, and think tank experts.
  • Topic: National Security, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Alliance, Trade
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel H. Rosen, Thilo Hanemann
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: WHILE CHINA STARTED INVESTING AROUND THE WORLD in the early 2000s, the first waves of Chinese overseas investment targeted mostly extractive mining activities in developing countries and resource-rich advanced economies such as Australia and Canada. Over the past five years, however, Chinese capital has begun to flow into non-extractive sectors in advanced economies, increasingly targeting technology- and innovation-intensive industries. Initially, the surge of Chinese outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) in the United States largely responded to opportunities in energy and real estate, but access to technology and innovation is now becoming an important driver. In the first quarter of 2014 alone, Chinese investors announced high-tech deals worth more than $6 billion, including the takeovers of Motorola Mobility, IBM's x86 server unit, and electric carmaker Fisker.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: China, America, Canada, Asia, Australia