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Energy, Security, and Climate

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The Problem With Chinese Clean Energy Subsidies

by Michael Levi

I wrote last week about how Chinese gains in solar energy could help, rather than hurt, U.S. businesses. My argument was that if China focused on those parts of the value chain where it had a natural edge, and the United States focused on those parts where it was most suited, they could together bring down the cost of solar. That would increase the market for solar, and they would both win. In particular, I argued that Chinese strength in the later stages of solar manufacturing wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Read more »

The Downside to Made in the USA

by Michael Levi

Keith Bradsher has a largely excellent article in Wednesday’s Times that’s focused on the (possibly illegal) advantages that the Chinese government is providing its clean energy firms. In reporting the piece, though, he falls prey to a deceptive story about the success of Chinese solar at the expense of U.S. industry. Since it’s a story that regularly shows up in one form or another, it’s important to understand why there’s less than meets the eye. (I’ll have more to say on the broader trade issues in several upcoming articles and posts.) Read more »

Does Yingli Solar Really Belong at the World Cup?

by Michael Levi

Yingli Solar, the Chinese rooftop solar photovoltaic company, has been making waves with its prominent sponsorship of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Times picked up the story yesterday, quoting a Yingli spokesperson who said that the company “pondered” its decision “profoundly, deeply”. My colleague Liz Economy flagged the sponsorship last week. Noting that Yingli’s ads were running next to ones from McDonalds, she worried that China was embracing the future while U.S. companies were stuck representing the past. Read more »

Will China Follow Lomborg’s Advice on Carbon Taxes?

by Michael Levi

Barbara Finamore at NRDC has a nice rundown of internal Chinese discussions about imposing a carbon tax beginning in 2012. A Chinese carbon tax would be a positive development. But it’s important for observers to understand what it would do and what it wouldn’t. Based on the numbers being discussed, this looks like it’s more about raising money (albeit money that might be earmarked for green “research and development investment”) than about directly altering Chinese emissions: the tax being proposed would be equivalent to about $1.50 per ton of CO2 in 2012 and would rise to a bit less than six bucks by 2020. Praise from the environmental advocacy community for this step is thus more than a bit ironic: it’s pretty much in line with what The Breakthrough Institute, Roger Pielke Jr, and Bjorn Lomborg have called for. Read more »

Chinese energy statistics, take two

by Michael Levi

Several commenters have thoughtful responses to my attempt to reconcile China’s claim that it’s cut its energy intensity by 14.38% since 2005 with the underlying GDP and energy consumption statistics. I also asked a friend who was visiting China last week to poke around, but without luck. My sense is that there’s a simpler explanation to all this: Read more »

Making Sense of China’s Energy Intensity Statistics

by Michael Levi

Stephen Howes (via Roger Pielke) takes a look at recent Chinese statistics and calls recent Chinese claims to have cut energy intensity by 14.38% from 2005 to 2009 into question. I’ll be the last person to defend the integrity of Chinese government statistics. That said, I think there may be a way to understand the discrepancy – but I don’t think it resolves the fundamental problem. Read more »