Just when it appeared China’s coal use was declining, a New York Times article yesterday asserted that the country is digging more coal. Which would dig the world into a deeper hole regarding climate change. Discouraging news. But wait. Check out a different perspective from this blog by Greenpeace coal expert, Lauri Myllyvirta. He says China recently and temporarily loosened rules that’s led to a bump in coal production. However, Myllyvirta reports, China’s net annual coal production for 2016 will be “far below” last year’s. China “is in the middle of a messy and complicated transition” regarding coal mining, he says.
Many, many contentious issues divide China and the United States, among them territorial disputes, human rights, and cybersecurity. But there is one hugely important issue where they do agree–fighting climate change. This alliance, forged through great effort under Presidents Obama and Xi Jinping, led the world to sign the momentous Paris agreement this year.
But president-elect Donald Trump has called climate change a hoax perpetrated by China, has promised to pull out of the Paris accord and dismantle Obama’s Clean Power Plan. This plan would cut America’s carbon footprint, shift our dependence from fossil fuels to renewable energy as a greater source of power and jobs, and boost our energy security.
Our mission at the Alliance, to fight climate change by working with China and the U.S. to save energy, has never been more important. We intend to redouble our efforts to connect stakeholders, inform you, and promote energy efficiency in both countries. It’s not going to happen under the incoming Administration, so it will be up to the Alliance, other non-governmental organizations and the private sector to forge ahead. China will continue its fight on climate change whether the U.S. does or not. (For more on this, see the latest blog of NRDC colleagues Barbara Finamore and Alvin Lin.) It will be China’s gain to fight climate change–environmentally and economically–and our loss. And the world’s since carbon emissions don’t recognize borders.
Last week, the morning after the election, the Alliance hosted a panel of six eminent experts on “The Utility of the Future in the U.S. and China.” We were all reeling from the election results. But we carried on and the information exchanged and connections made were most valuable. The opportunities for energy efficiency in both countries are enormous. Whatever your politics, energy efficiency can save money. As I write, the Trump Administration has named a climate denier to head the transition team at EPA.
We are rollin’ up our sleeves. Join us.
Business as usual among utilities in the U.S. and China? Not. U.S. utilities are grappling with the federal Clean Power Plan. In China, the national government is pressing utilities there for major power sector reform. Utilities in both countries face major changes in policy, regulations and technology. What can we learn from each other to improve utilities for the future? What are the opportunities and challenges? What’s the role of energy efficiency in the utilities’ changing world?
Please join us Wednesday, November 9 for a unique opportunity to hear a special panel of leading experts illuminate these crucial topics. If you can’t make in person, the event also will be streamed live—audio only—as a webinar. The panel is 10 a.m. to noon in San Francisco. Click here to buy tickets to attend in person or via webinar. Early bird special until November 4. Then prices go up. Save ten bucks, buy now!
Here’s our fantastic line up of panelists. We’ve aligned the stars to make this happen. Really.
- Ralph Cavanagh, Co-Director, Energy Program & Senior Attorney, NRDC. Moderator
- Jan Berman, Senior Director, Energy Efficiency Strategy, PG&E
- Joe Kruger, Visiting Fellow, Resources for the Future
- Fritz Kahrl, Senior Advisor, Regulatory Assistance Project
- Kate Gordon, Vice Chair, Paulson Institute
- Ella Zhou, Strategic Energy Analysis Center, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Hope you can join us for this fascinating discussion.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) published its annual Energy Efficiency Market Report last week. This year’s report identifies energy efficiency as a critical “fuel” in the transition to a low-carbon economy. The report demonstrates the central role of government policy in driving energy efficiency. Strengthening these policies will be critical to boosting the potential gains from energy efficiency.
The report highlighted some exciting news: efficiency gains in the IEA’s member countries were large enough to power Japan in 2015 making efficiency a critical component of a secure, sustainable energy system. The report noted that one country in particular, China, showed significant progress, where energy intensity improved by 5.6 per cent. IEA Executive Director, Dr Fatih Birol, said, “That was up from an annual rate of 3.1 per cent over the previous decade, according to the report. China’s progress in energy efficiency is making its mark on global energy markets. Primary energy demand in China grew by just 0.9 per cent in 2015, its lowest rate since 1997, while the economy grew by 6.9 per cent.”
“Energy efficiency is the one energy resource that all countries possess in abundance. I welcome the improvement in global energy efficiency, particularly at a time of lower energy prices. This is a sign that many governments push the energy efficiency policies, and it works,” Dr. Birol said.
According to a report released last month by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), energy efficiency is found to be the 3rd largest resource in the U.S. power sector. The China-U.S. Energy Efficiency Alliance is thrilled about this news. For over 11 years, the Alliance has been combating global climate change by promoting efficiency as the cleanest and least expensive energy resource in China and the United States.
The ACEEE report estimates that energy efficiency only lags behind coal and natural gas. Additionally, it’s important to note that, “energy efficiency has eliminated the need for 313 new power plants since 1990 and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 490 million tons last year.”