Power deal seen as less effort for some
Experts have picked apart a 'game-changing' renewable energy deal between China and the US to see if it can meet its own hype.
While the deal has been praised by many, the actual numbers involved leave some commentators less thrilled.
One of the quickest criticisms came from US Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell the day after the announcement last week, saying “as I read the agreement it requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years while these carbon emissions regulations are creating havoc in my state and around the country”.
But far from doing nothing, Professor John Matthews (Professor of Strategic Management at Macquarie University) says China will actually be building the world’s largest renewable energy system to date.
China has committed to raising the proportion of renewable sources in its total energy system to 20 per cent.
“As renewables and nuclear power currently account for 10% of China’s total energy consumption, this implies a doubling of its renewables commitment,” Dr Matthews says.
The official White House statement on the mutual agreement says “it will require China to deploy an additional 800-1000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission generation capacity by 2030.”
“These are enormous numbers, but they fit with China’s current capacity and goals. In 2013 China’s generating capacity from all sources reached 1,247 gigawatts. Its generating capacity from water, wind and sun (leaving nuclear to one side) has already reached 378 gigawatts,” Dr Matthews writes in an article for The Conversation.
He said that because China has committed itself to renewable energy in its over-arching industrial strategy, the 12th Five Year Plan, the intention to reach a goal seem deem “aspirational” is actually quite concrete.
Energy industry writer Robert Wilson (a PhD Student in Mathematical Ecology) is less optimistic, writing “like it or not, this deal does not appear to give us a chance to win this particular fight [against climate change]; instead, it confirms we have almost certainly lost it”.
“This new 2025 commitment does little more than extrapolate the 2020 commitment forward five years. If this is a game changer, one must ask what isn't,” Mr Wilson said.
In his review, climate change policy researcher Chris Hope says it creates a glimmer of hope to reduce the harmful impacts of fossil-fuel burning; These agreements on their own give us less than a 1 per cent chance of keeping the rise in global mean temperatures below the iconic 2°C level in 2100,” he said.