How does the China and the United States get along when it comes to green energy and clean air policies? Not well.
Reports from the recent UN Climate Change Conference in Durban South Africa indicated that the biggest polluters acted like children without adult supervision. One attendee said, “China and the United States are hijacking the conference with game a of ping pong politics…frustrating the rest of the world.”
China and the United States are the two largest producers of green house gases. China does so with sheer numbers in population and the United States with its unmatched appetite for energy consumption. China is rapidly increasing its annual output of carbon dioxide while the US and the European Union have actually reduced emissions.
The US wants China to be bound by the same clean air standards as the rest of the world, but China contends, that due to it’s millions of poor people and rapid economic growth, it is an unfair standard.
And then there is the solar trade issue. Are the Chinese are dumping solar panels on the US market? Seven US solar panel manufactures appealed to the United States International Trade Commission, who agreed the Chinese are selling solar panels far below market value. It is quite clear that the Chinese government is supporting the solar industry in China and it is reported that the US could implement tariffs on Solar Panel imports as early as January 2012.
So here we are. Two very different countries, on the same planet, with the same problems, but stuck in a game of international politics.
China has the point of view they need freedom to pollute more, in order to compete with the rest of the world. A small part of that pollution is caused by the production of solar panels that are being exported at a rapid rate. Solar panels, when installed, would help eliminate green house gases.
Recent atmospheric studies show China and the US are totally intertwined. Pollution and dust from China travels over the Pacific Ocean, directly affecting precipitation levels and air pollution in the US. We are learning the Earth is a small island that we all share.
Solar panels from China travel by boat and the pollution travels by air. The real cost of sub market pricing of Chinese solar panels is far higher than just crushing the American solar industry. Industries can recover in a few years; the long-term impact of pollution is unknown.
If China installed all the solar panels they manufactured they would get closer to the goals of the UN Climate Change Conference. This would let the US fend for itself and increase production of solar panels domestically eliminating the need for tariffs. Local problems would be addressed on a local level. Pollution floating over the Pacific to the US would be reduced since China would burn less coal.
What have we learned from the recent Climate Change Conference? Environmentalists are not politicians and neither are economists. Before matters get worse, these two mega economies need to find a way to play nice on this warming sphere floating in space.
The most responsible action is to work on a local level to curb the consumption of energy that produces green house gasses and install as much renewable energy as possible.
It is our universal responsibility to install a solar panel made in America, China or wherever – without disrupting economies and creating more pollution in the process. It needs to be logistically and economically sound to install a quality solar system, designed to last decades, right now – on a local level.