Posts Tagged ‘sustainable’
James Fallows of Atlantic Monthly at the Aspen Ideas Conference right now, from his blog a snippet on the US not leading at any of the green technology fields.
On energy, a disturbing factlet. (And obviously not the only disturbing observation on the energy-and-climate front.) I heard three people separately observe that when it comes to future sources of “clean” energy, there is not a single field in which U.S. companies are the technical or market leaders. One person gave an informal ranking of the leaders this way:
Solar-powered electricity (ie, photo-voltaic systems): Norway, Japan, China
Solar-thermal systems (for heating water or buildings) Spain the leader in getting systems deployed
Wind power: Holland, Denmark, China
Geothermal power: nobody
Nuclear power (“clean” in the carbon-footprint sense): France, Japan
CCS, “Carbon capture and sequestration” (stripping out CO2 and burying it): Norway, Australia, Canada.
This person said that his list was rough and ready, and that US firms were in a close second place in some fields. But the main point, he said, is that “American firms are acting as if there is not going to be a vital, profitable, globalized clean-tech industry a decade from now, and as if they don’t care about competing in it.” He had some other more hopeful things to say about how sustained investment could help close the gap. But the list itself was news to me.
And from their latest piece here, excellent read on the elusive green economy. Clean energy, like other utilities, will be succeed or fall with consistent government support/inaction. China is now one of the largest players in clean technology because of government support. So is Germany’s solar play. Unlike Internet start-ups with lower funding costs, energy plays require much larger funds to starup that most VCs cannot afford. Government grants are needed, but that would mean choosing winners. Technology, policy and finance will intertwine, who knows when the breakthrough green tech will emerge from this interplay?
The Chinese have realised that inaction on climate change will lead to their own economic undoing. And they are taking action. This is a comprehensive look at everything China is doing to green itself. h/t to Phei Sunn for sending this around.
The full article can be downloaded here. The focus is on energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy grid, auto industry, public transport and others.
Well, someone took a stab at it and here’s one view of the world economy by 2030, from UK based Outsights. The scenarios are based on two axes, resources and technology, a very Malthusian view of the world.
It didn’t really address something more fundamental, which is the good-bye of Chimerica, and what would the world look like then? Would I put demand on one axis, with one end being G3-led-consumer demand (continuation of the past) and the other end being US-China internal-government demand? Then what of the next axis? I would put technology, with one end being technology/innovation as a powerful driver of growth and creating new possibilities, and the other end as it being stifled. Same as Outsights.
What would that look like then? let you know as the process crunches on …
For now, here is a snip of the Outsights scenarios plus the full thing on slideshare.
The future of the global economy to 2030
The global economy is at a juncture of great uncertainty and change. To explore a broader understanding of what the future of the global economy may hold, Outsights gathered experts from different sectors – Government, the City, Business and NGOs – to consider what is shaping the future to 2030. This report builds on the output of the workshop with further research and scenario development by Outsights.
The aim was to build scenarios – alternative and plausible stories of how the future might unfold – for the global economy to 2030. Rather than creating a conventional economic forecast – the inherent weaknesses of which are the unforeseen disruptions in the model – the group focussed on the major uncertainties of today’s world, especially the non-economic issues, to challenge current assumptions.
“In the move to a low carbon economy, we believe that China will no longer be a developing country …., but a pioneer leading the way“,
Steve Howard, CEO, The Climate Group, August 2008
China looks set to assume a new global leadership position in the low carbon clean industry. A report by an international NGO, the Climate Group, recently hailed China as the world’s leading renewable energy producer – overtaking developed economies in exploiting valuable economic opportunities, creating green-collar jobs and developing critical low carbon technologies. This is an important development, especially for a country industrializing so rapidly that it must open a coal-fired power plant every week.
While the pioneering developments in clean industries were led by developed countries, China is now racing ahead with up-to-date technologies and an impressive manufacturing capacity that leverages on growing international and national regulations on carbon emissions. The markets for electric bicycles and solar water heaters are two notable examples – both now largest in the world and having developed from almost nothing at the turn of the millennium. China has also/is the on the way to achieving other leading global positions – in solar photovoltaic power, hydro electricity generation, wind turbine production, solar water heating installations, battery production, biomass production, and more. See below for some related diagrams.
The swift developments in the clean industry stem from a strong regulatory and policy commitment from the Chinese government, a highly responsive private sector, growing export opportunities and supporting finance. Chinese consumers are now exposed to strong marketing campaigns along with a range of eco-friendly products and buildings, low carbon transport, efficient appliances and green loans. China has also become the world’s largest supplier of the UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) credits which are now funding billions in carbon reductions in the country.
China’s investment in renewable energy is truly impressive and has grown to almost match that of world leader Germany as a percentage of GDP. Here are some up and coming Chinese companies to look out for:
- Solar Photovoltaic – Suntech Power Holdings, LDK Solar, JA Solar Holdings, Yingli Solar (market capitalisation of over US$2 billion each)
- Electric Cars/Bicycles – Dongfeng, Chery, Chang’An, BYD, Giant Bike Company
- Wind Turbines - Goldwind Science and Technology Company, Sinovel
- Solar Water Heaters - Himin Solar Energy Group
Here’s a link to a BBC Hardtalk interview with China’s Wu Changhua that reveals how China is already on its way to a low carbon future.
Nice catchy title of 20 cities showing a possible future of sustainable, pleasant, economically productive high density living (what a mouthful!) by 2020. It’s done by Ethisphere, a thinktank based in NY.
I would just want to layer the thinking of sustainable cities with the F.E.W or Food-Energy-Water equation. I think cities that are able to secure reasonably priced F.E.W. resources and that are also sustainable, growth oriented etc will win in a spiky world. While the lessons of cities gone horribly wrong have been around for all to see and learn, not every city will. Governance is in short supply. Planning for the long term is in short supply.