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  • Author: Luca Franza
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Dolphins are being spotted in harbours, canals in Venice have never looked so clean and the temporary ban of corridas has spared the lives of a hundred Spanish bulls. Looking at the bright side of things is an admirable quality, but we should not get too carried away with the idea that COVID-19 is good for the planet. Besides the anecdotal phenomena quoted above, the collapse of mobility and economic activity induced by COVID-19 are generating meaningful short-term consequences for the environment. These include a sharp reduction in Hubei’s and Northern Italy’s air pollution levels and a likely reduction in global CO2 emissions in 2020. Rejoicing over such news rests on a short-sighted view. The interlinkages between COVID-19, energy and climate issues are so complex that we are actually looking at a mixed bag of consequences.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Pollution, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Molly Jahn
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: US public investment in agricultural research in the 20th and 21st centuries has resulted in unprecedented worldwide production of a few staple crops and the improvement of dozens more. Increased crop yields and animal production have drastically reduced famine compared to previous centuries and supported an overall increase in global affluence. Today, agricultural producers around the world are facing new challenges as global climate changes become increasingly unpredictable. Inconsistent rain, extreme temperatures, droughts, flooding, wildfires, and shifting pest and disease patterns are just a few of the obstacles farmers face as they try to feed their families and produce enough food to feed the world. In spite of these dire challenges, US public agricultural research funding has been decreasing over the past several decades. This has allowed competitors such as China and Brazil to outpace American ingenuity, take over American markets, and put American farmers at a disadvantage. The lack of investment in agricultural research and development is a critical national security concern. Historical US agricultural strength has contributed to US hard and soft power around the world. As the US food system is beset by increasing climate, economic, financial, and security threats, US rural communities have been left behind, undermining US power and domestic well-being. Increasing global food insecurity, which has been amplified by increasing weather extremes, will lead to economic and political instability in many areas of the world, further threatening US national security. Although the private sector plays a crucial role in the development of new agricultural techniques and products, public funding has been the backbone of many agriculture and food system advances. While agricultural research and development has historically focused primarily on increasing yields, this narrow focus does not adequately support the food requirements of today’s growing global population. There must be a revitalization of public investment in agricultural research, American food systems, and international agricultural development that focuses on the challenges of the future. US leadership is vital to ensuring the global research agenda does not leave farmers behind. Opportunities to build upon and enhance existing US agricultural research infrastructure across many diverse government entities abound. The US government should recognize these investment opportunities to address current and future climate challenges.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Environment, Research
  • Political Geography: China, Brazil, North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: David B. Sandalow
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • 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 Asia Society Policy Institute issue paper, China’s Response to Climate Change: A Study in Contrasts and a Policy at a Crossroads, written by former senior policymaker and current Columbia University fellow David Sandalow, 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 potential Biden administration’s ambition in addressing climate change would be reinforced by ambition in China. This issue paper also 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. This paper is the second in a series of policy products that the Asia Society Policy Institute will publish as part of a project exploring the possibilities around U.S.-China climate cooperation.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Governance, Renewable Energy, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Thom Woodroofe, Brendan Guy
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society Policy Institute
  • Abstract: The United States is the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas emitter. For that reason, the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November will have an undeniable impact on the future of the global climate change regime. This is especially the case now that the United Nations’ COP26 Climate Change Conference has been postponed to 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, as Asia and the rest of the world consider whether and how to step up their levels of ambition as part of the five-year ratchet mechanism of the Paris Agreement, the United States has the potential to be either a catalytic force for that effort going into 2021 or an even stronger spoiler of the Agreement’s ongoing effectiveness at a crucial juncture. No country will be watching more closely than China. The 2014 U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change between President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping proved to be the watershed moment in the lead-up to the Paris Agreement, as the two countries signaled for the first time that they would act in a coordinated manner to combat climate change. Whether the United States and China can recapture that spirit of shared ambition in the future will have ripple effects on the positions of other major emitters as well — especially India, Japan, and Australia, which may not enhance their own levels of ambition without a stronger indication of further action by the United States and China. While President Donald Trump has begun the process of withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement and rolled back domestic and international measures to combat climate change, it is clear that if a Democrat is elected president in 2020, they would make combating climate change a defining priority of their administration. Therefore, a clearer understanding of the specific approach that would underpin the climate diplomacy of a potential new Democratic president can provide greater reassurance to the international community as countries consider their own levels of ambition in the lead-up to COP26 and beyond. This paper, therefore, assesses the international climate policies of both Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders across six areas, including their proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; engage with other major emitters, including China; use trade policy as a lever for climate action; increase climate finance and remove fossil fuel subsidies; take action across other sectors, and embed climate action as a core national security priority. The authors also lay out three cross-cutting considerations for a potential new Democratic administration to maximize their efforts in the global fight against climate change, including how they can best structure their administration; engage other major emitters most strategically; and use all tools in the toolkit to reduce emissions. This includes a number of specific recommendations for how the candidates’ existing policies can best be elaborated, including with regard to China; plans to host a world leader summit on climate early in a new administration; and the tabling of a new 2030 emissions reduction target. The likely constraints and choices that will confront a new U.S. administration as they determine their approach to climate action are also highlighted in the paper. This paper is the first in a series of policy products that the Asia Society Policy Institute will publish as part of a new project exploring the possibilities around U.S.-China climate cooperation.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Diplomacy, Government, Treaties and Agreements, Donald Trump, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony Bergin, Tony Press
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Given recent broader tensions in the China–Australia relationship, China’s global ambitions, lack of progress on key Antarctic policy initiatives and the potential for significant geopolitical consequences for the future of Antarctica and for Australia’s strategic interests, it’s important that Australian policymakers reconsider our long-term Antarctic policy settings. The report found no clear evidence that China is violating the Antarctic Treaty. But it argues we should apply a more sharply focused assessment of the costs and benefits of cooperation, given China’s more assertive international posture and increasing interests in Antarctica. The recommendations in the report are designed to maximise the value and mitigate the downside risks of China engagement for our Antarctic and broader national interests. Overall, we should adopt a more transactional approach in our Antarctic engagement with China, making it clear what we require from cooperation and what we expect from China. Given the track record Beijing has in moving rapidly on a broad front, as it’s done in the South China Sea, we need to be prepared to respond to a rapid increase in the speed and scale of China’s actions in Antarctica.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, National Security, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia, Australia/Pacific, Antarctica
  • Author: Amy Namur
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Once known as the world's top carbon polluter, China has recently recommitted itself as a leader in sustainability and renewable energy. Moving to fill the gaps left by the United States at the Paris Climate Talks, China has ramped up its renewable energy commitments, including plans to cap its CO2 emissions, drastically increase forest stocks, and expand its non-fossil fuel market share to 20 percent, all by 2030. This move has been highly favorable for Chinese diplomatic relations with its Southeast and Pacific Island neighbors who have labeled climate change as a top priority. Domestically the extensive health impacts of air pollution in China has rallied public opinion against the pollution industry, making the move to green energy both a wide berth of support. While still the highest CO2 emitting country in the world, China has made significant investments in renewable energy development and currently leads the planet in renewable investments abroad. China’s domestic commitment to sustainability has been ambitious; however, meeting these goals has created one of the biggest energy paradoxes of the 21st century.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Renewable Energy, Sustainability, Carbon Emissions
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Georg Zachmann
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Bruegel
  • Abstract: We argue that energy relations between the EU and Russia and between China and Russia influence each other. We analyse their interactions in terms of four areas: oil and gas trading, electricity exchanges, energy technology exports and energy investments. We discuss five key hypotheses that describe the likely developments in these four areas in the next decade and their potential impact on Europe: 1. There is no direct competition between the EU and China for Russian oil and gas 2. China and the EU both have an interest in curbing excessive Russian energy rents 3. The EU, Russia and China compete on the global energy technology market, but specialise in different technologies 4. Intercontinental electricity exchange is unlikely 5. Russia seems more worried about Chinese energy investments with strategic/political goals, than about EU investments We find no evidence of a negative spillover for the EU from the developing Russia-China energy relationship. But, eventually, if these risks – and in particular the risk of structural financial disintermediation – do materialise, central banks would have various instruments to counter them.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Oil, Europe Union
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe
  • Author: Anthony Dworkin, Richard Gowan
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Multilateralism is core to Europe’s approach to foreign policy, but in recent years this has weakened as EU countries disagree among themselves. The US, China, and Russia have each sought to challenge or disrupt the existing, post-1945 world order; and each seeks to divide Europeans from one another. The turmoil in the current system represents an opportunity for Europeans to shape a new order that meets their strategic needs. In addition to the fight against climate change, European interests include: increasing stability on its troubled periphery; managing migration more effectively; and defending the open world trading system. European countries will need to transform EU foreign policy decision-making processes, deepen their cooperation in multilateral settings, and set multilateral standards for emerging technologies.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Migration, Political stability, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Christy Clark, Monica Gattinger, Wilfrid Greaves, P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Geoffrey Cann, Matthew Foss, Kelly Ogle, Jean-Sebastien Rioux, Wenran Jiang, Robert Seeley, Dennis McConaghy, Ron Wallace
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Global Exchange
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The demand for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) continues to grow and Canada’s unconventional reserves remain amongst the very best in the world. With political will and an appetite to embrace gas the way Premier Lougheed once championed oil, we can still put the wealth of Western Canadian gas to work for the good of all Canadians. The papers that follow will be essential pieces for policy makers as they map out the path to Canada’s next great economic transformation.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Oil, Gas, Risk, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, Canada, Australia, North America
  • Author: Sylvie Cornot-Gandolphe
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: China’s gas industry has been moving into a new era. China’s natural gas demand has skyrocketed amid a state campaign that encourages coal-to-gas switching. In just two years, China added 75 billion cubic meters (bcm) to global gas demand, the equivalent of the UK gas market, the second largest European market. Despite steadily rising, Chinese gas production has not been able to cope with such a huge increase in demand and gas imports have also surged.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Energy Policy, Gas, Renewable Energy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia