CCS and Biofuel tech development no April fool’s joke. China needs it, Canada should supply.

I recently read a comment on a blog by David J. Parker, whose name was linked to the Green Party website, and I see he has a blog on the Green Party site, so I assume he has some policy link to the party.

The blog post I read was by Ken Chapman on CCS in Alberta. The feeling I got from Mr. Parker’s comment is that he doesn’t support CCS development, nor biofuel development, and I would like to know if this is also the position that the Green Party takes.

I’d like to mention that I am sympathetic to the views of the Green Party, and the need to have fundamental change in the way society and governance works in order to achieve sustainability, and I can see how from a Canadian perspective, where there are lots of opportunities to live more sustainably using energy efficiency, public transit, etc. as a means to reduce GHG emissions.

However, after living in China for 4.5 years, and working in the environment and energy policy sphere here, I see that Canada (and other developed countries) is a special case in this regard. In fact, countries like China and India and other developing countries already use huge amounts of public transit in their cities, and working on energy efficiency like crazy (for the vast majority of people here, life is “low carbon”). However, they still feel that their citizens have the right to live a high-quality, modern lifestyle as we all do in Canada. And who are we to disagree?

The fact of the matter is that countries like China are increasing their dependence on fossil fuels at rates completely unimaginable in Canada. Indeed, as recently highlighted by McKinsey’s “China’s Green Revolution” report, even with a continuation of China’s current energy efficiency improvement efforts and a 4.8% annual growth rate of carbon efficiency, China’s green house gas emissions in 2030 will be more than double 2005 levels (14.5 Gt per year of CO2e in 2030 vs. 6.8 Gt per year in 2005)  (Thanks to China Environmental Law Blog for pointing that out) .

In order to accomplish economic growth, China needs to increase its energy security, and as we all know, that means development of its vast coal resources and available biofuel resources. China doesn’t trust international oil markets, and other renewable energies simply cannot keep up with its growth. Since coal is basically unavoidable in this situation, development of IGCC and CCS power generation/carbon management technologies is also unavoidable and necessary. CCS systems attached to Coal-to-Liquid (CTL) are also completely necessary as China aggressively develops this fuel chain in order to decrease its dependence on foreign oil.

The second problem is that China sees climate change as a problem created by developed countries, including Canada, and a problem that needs to be solved, in large measure, by developed countries. It is therefore insisting that technology developed in developed countries be transferred to China for free or at preferential rates.

So, we have a problem. China insists that it needs technology. Developed countries are going to send it. Does Canada want to benefit from the development of that technology or not?

The only way Canada will benefit is to encourage scientists, engineers, and industry to engage in these climate-change marginal, but completely necessary technologies, whether it is through government spending, or whatever other support government can give. The fact is that, if developed properly, these technologies are better than simply burning coal and releasing emissions into the air.

I encourage the Green Party, and all of Canada’s political parties, to take a global view to its domestic policies. Climate change is a global problem, and it cannot be solved domestically in Canada without cooperating abroad. We don’t have the population or the strength to do so. The only way we can help solve this problem is to make ourselves known, and to contribute to the development of technologies that developing countries need, whether we in Canada need them or not.


CCS and Biofuel tech development no April fool’s joke. China needs it, Canada should supply. — 2 Comments

  1. I think you make a valid point. It seems to me that it is in developed countries’ interest to do all they can to tackle global warming issues, all environmental issues for that matter, in densely populated, developing countries. Even if we manage to clean up our own backyards, it won’t make much difference if our neighbours continue to indulge in the environmentally damaging lifestyle we have benefitted from, promoted, and are finally admitting is detrimental to the planet. We owe it to all life on Earth to share knowledge, experience and technolgy in a manner that puts our planet’s survival first and foremost. It is a GLOBAL concern. It will take the concerted cooperation and effort of all nations. It’s time for developed countries to show a little good faith, leadership, and make a few sacrifices. It’s time to pay the piper.