Heads up to MediaLens for pointing me in the direction of this broadcast of an interview with the British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband.
“Free Thinking – David Miliband : Last broadcast on Tuesday 3rd November 2009, 21:15 on BBC Radio 3. In an interview given in front of an audience at The Sage Gateshead as part of the 2009 Free Thinking festival, Foreign Secretary David Miliband talks to Philip Dodd about his family background, his life in politics and his vision for democracy – both home and abroad. A rising star in the Blair government, Miliband has become a government heavyweight under Gordon Brown. He is among the youngest foreign secretaries in history.”
Somewhere during the interview David Miliband utters what I consider to be a myth. He said something along the lines of “…China…building four coal-fired power plants a month…or a week.”
Is there any truth in this ? And how could we verify it ? And why does pointing at China let American and European Coal expansion off the hook ?
One of the problems here is that different sources quote different statistics, and few mention how large the coal plants might be, or whether they are actually built or just planned.
This is what I call “China Syndrome”, blaming everything on China.
The arguments run along these lines : we don’t need to cut our Carbon Dioxide emissions, because China is still growing far more. Or, what’s the point in cutting our Carbon Dioxide emissions when China is still commissioning two coal-fired power plants each week !
“Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 June 2007 : China building more power plants : By Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment Analyst : China is now building about two power stations every week, the top climate change official at the UK Foreign Office, John Ashton, has said…”
“China Outpaces U.S. in Cleaner Coal-Fired Plants : China’s frenetic construction of coal-fired power plants has raised worries around the world about the effect on climate change. China now uses more coal than the United States, Europe and Japan combined, making it the world’s largest emitter of gases that are warming the planet. But largely missing in the hand-wringing is this: China has emerged in the past two years as the world’s leading builder of more efficient, less polluting coal power plants, mastering the technology and driving down the cost.While the United States is still debating whether to build a more efficient kind of coal-fired power plant that uses extremely hot steam, China has begun building such plants at a rate of one a month…”
“SEPTEMBER 28, 2009 : China’s Wind Farms Come With a Catch: Coal Plants..”
[ Note : building wind farms with coal-fired backup is much better than just building coal power, surely ? ]
It’s easy to be scared about China, because the West does not normally hear news about China. The inscrutable Chinese. Who have an excellent environmental plan, actually. We need to hear more about that, rather than silly, unfounded myths about coal-fired power plants.
But there is a twist to the “Bad China” story out this week.
“So What if China Builds Coal Plants? by: Ryan Avent October 19, 2009…Sure, China is already altering climate by building coal plants, but economies have been building coal plants to generate power for over a century, whereas efforts to intentionally alter the climate by pumping tons of sulfur gas into the atmosphere are unprecedented. The two actions are qualitatively different.”
“November 2, 2009 : Beijing had their earliest snow in over a decade, with up to 20 inches bringing down many trees still covered with leaves. But does it count? It wasn’t entirely natural. With strong winds from the north holding temperatures at 29F (-2C), it looked like snow, and had to be shoveled or bulldozed. But the real story was how it happened. When they say the state controls everything, they really mean it. China controls the weather too. While in the grip of a severe drought, The Beijing Weather Modification Bureau seeded the clouds with 500 cigarette sized sticks of silver iodide from 28 rocket launch sites around the city, to induce precipitation. It had not rained in 100 days over the city, but on the down side 12 area highways were closed…”
“…Caldeira has become a focal point recently in the controversy surrounding the publication of Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s SuperFreakonomics, the follow-up to their previous best-seller, Freakonomics. A chapter of the book that deals with geoengineering and quoted Caldeira was circulated on the Internet prior to the book’s publication and was widely criticized for its poor understanding of climate science and its cynical, contrarian perspective. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, conducted by author Jeff Goodell, who is working on a book about geoengineering, Caldeira spoke about how his work was misrepresented in SuperFreakonomics, as well as the prospects — and pitfalls — of plans to engineer the planet’s climate system. He views geoengineering as a last resort, one fraught with risks and unintended consequences. What if, for example, industrialized nations decide to inject heat-reflecting dust into the stratosphere and set off a climate reaction that causes drought and famine in India and China? For this and many other reasons, Caldeira argues that sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions is by far the most prudent course…”
So, I want to know, is China going to be accused for conducting a covert geoengineering project in the near future ?
Playing with the atmosphere is usually considered good when conducted by friendly powers, bad when organised by quasi-enemies.
This is all rather HAARP :-
David Miliband cannot be blamed for propagating the Bad China myths. He doesn’t know any better, or rather, he hasn’t been briefed any more constructively.
I want to hear what David Miliband has to say further on the subject of Global Change – both in Climate and general policy terms.
I’m going to attend this conference :-
Fabian ‘Global Change We Need’ conf. Saturday
November 4, 2009 at 8:37 am
The Fabian Society is hosting a ‘Global Change We Need’ conference this coming Saturday.
The half day conference will feature dignitaries ministers from across Europe and the USA discussing how to create a progressive movement for change in Europe.
As we approach December’s Copenhagen summit & world leaders build upon a post-G20 agenda, the Fabians will debate the extent to which President Obama’s movement for change has influenced major global debates.
Much of Obama’s success is deeply rooted in grassroots interventions on climate change, human rights, Middle East engagement and a progressive vision for the economy.
The morning session will discuss whether a movement for change can be mobilised in Europe and how strongly President Obama’s campaign pledges have come to realisation, while our afternoon session will attempt to locate the European voice in the economic debate, and seek to define a vision for the progressive economy we want.
Speakers include Rt Hon David Miliband MP, Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs;
Ben Brandzel, Organizing for America;
Jennifer Palmieri, Centre for American Progress;
Charlie Kronick, Greenpeace UK;
Anthony Painter, Author of Barack Obama: Movement for Change;
Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, President of PES & former Danish Prime Minister;
Richard Miller, ActionAid UK’s Chief Executive,
Owen Tudor, Head of European Union and International Relations, TUC, the 10:10 UK campaign director
Sunder Katwala, Fabian Society.
7 November 2009, 10am to 4pm
Amnesty International UK
17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA
Tickets: Fabian Society