Dear Representative Upton: Have you been to China recently?
The House subcommittee voted for Representative Upton’s unlimited carbon pollution bill (otherwise known as the Asthma Aggravation Act of 2011). Before the subcommittee vote, Chairman Upton said:
“Those that compete in global markets state that they are losing jobs to nations like China that have no intention of burdening their industries with similar restrictions. And once those jobs are gone, they’re gone.” (Greenwire, sub req.)
Such an impression isn’t grounded in the facts and the evidence on the ground. Here are some facts which would give you a different conclusion:
- China became the largest market for new clean energy investments in 2009 – surging past the US, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In 2009, China’s new clean energy investments were almost double those of the US – $34.6 billion for China compared with $18.6 billion for the US.
- In 2010, Chinese investment in new clean energy continued to surge to $51 billion, a 30% increase over 2009. I know that big dollar numbers get thrown around a lot in DC policy circles, but a 30% increase for any sector in the midst of very troubling financial times is very impressive growth that any industry would take. Comprehensive long-term targets have guided this transition.
- For the period 2005-2010, China undertook a massive effort to reduce its energy-intensity by 20% below 2005 levels. This target was enforced through a combination of measures including shutting-down old-inefficient power plants, major investments in renewable energy, and requirements to improve the energy-efficiency at the largest companies. These were binding targets where local officials and state-owned company promotions prospects were based upon their delivery of these targets.
- China just announced new energy intensity, carbon intensity and total energy consumption targets. Over the next 5-years (2010-2015) China has just committed to reduce their energy-intensity by 16% and their carbon-intensity by 17% below 2010 levels. And they’ve committed to increase non-fossil energy sources to 11.4% of primary energy consumption from the current 8.3%, over the same period. These are all part of the “strategic position” climate change holds in policy planning.
- Because of these carbon and energy reduction measures, and backed up by a robust renewable energy deployment program, China’s wind market doubled every year between 2006 and 2009 in terms of total installed capacity, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). In 2010, China overtook the United States as the country with the most installed wind energy capacity (GWEC).
Of course, China has its problems. Here’s the view some days out of NRDC’s office windows in Beijing. This pollution is having damaging impacts across the Chinese society. We’re sure that you’re not weakening clean air protections in the U.S. because you want the view out your office window to look like this.
I hope you stop this damaging effort and help the US get into the clean energy race in a serious way. In addition to the damages to the health of children, the elderly, and other sensitive populations from your legislation, this bill would keep the US from getting into the clean energy race in a series way – a race that is estimated to be over $10 trillion over the next two decades. The legislation wouldn’t protect us from Chinese competition as you claim. Instead it would make us even more competitively disadvantaged. And it would take us backward in protecting the American people from life-saving health standards.
So Dear Mr. Upton, NRDC would be happy to help you with a trip to China to see first-hand how they are racing to make investments in clean energy and the damages of weak pollution standards (I’ve seen it first-hand on a number of occasions). If you can’t get there given your busy schedule dismantling health and pollution protections for the American public (or because you are trying to reduce your personal carbon pollution) here is a picture of real clean energy action in China (we would be happy to share more).
Do you want me to help you with your itinerary to China so you can see first-hand these facts?
Post written with help from NRDC’s China Climate Fellow Michael Davidson.