The Sinocanadian is going to Copenhagen!

We’re not yet exactly sure when we’ll be on site, but what we’ll be covering with keen interest is any talk or progress on biofuels, low carbon fuel standards and carbon registries.  We’ll also be observing with great interest any talks on the fate of Arctic peoples.

Four streams:

  1. Biofuels
    1. Forest-based products
    2. grassland conversion and land use change
    3. second generation biofuels and policy implications
  2. low carbon fuel standards
    1. how to incorporate the ecological risks of low carbon fuel standards into effective climate change mitigation policy?  Is this problem solvable?
  3. Registries
    1. What are the practical issues for registries in developing countries?  How do you deal with incomplete data, and what level of precision is needed?
    2. Why should organizations in developing countries join registries?  What’s the benefit and what are the drawbacks?
  4. Arctic peoples
    1. What role do arctic peoples have in defining their own vutures?  How will their cultures help them to adapt?  What innovative strategies or tactics are emerging in these places tha could be mimicked in the south?
    2. What are the major changes going on in the arctic?  What can science tell us, and what is traditional knowledge telling us?  Does the difference matter?
    We’ll start posting introductions to these topics over the next few days leading up to the conference, and post regularly as they are discussed throughout the event, Dec 7-19.

Canada’s back in China – online, at least!

Well, after at least a week of online haiatus, and repeated calls to the embassy and foreign affairs Canada and others, Canada’s national portal, http://canada.gc.ca is back online in China, available on all my various devices and in all sorts of locations.

At the height of this ridiculous blockage in China, I couldn’t access Canada’s website in Beijing: I tried on my own computer and my office computer, took my Ipod Touch and laptop to various locations around the city, and had the same result of other blocked sites.   I even tried to get there using the GPRS internet on my mobile phone.  No luck.  I had spoken to a journalist in Beijing, and for some reason he could go to canada.gc.ca, but others I asked to test for me couldn’t.  Really bizzare.

Anyway, I’m glad that the site is back, there is some information I need on there.  But the more disturbing question is: why was a national website allowed to be blocked in China?  If it’s a snub, I’d like to know why… if it was just carelessness on China’s part, well…I think Canada needs to reevaluate (again) it’s position in China.  If it was carelessness, Canada’s profile is clearly still not high enough to warrant being on a “White list” with China’s censors.

Canada has the ability to be a leader in so many ways with respect to global issues, if it has the desire.  But if our national website is blocked to 1/5 of the world’s population in China, it’s going to be very hard to do anything at all.

China puts on air force show – rehearsal

As I was typing at my desk this morning, I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye.  The guys on the construction site next door were running around looking up at the sky.  It seemed pretty strange, so I also looked up at the sky, and lo and behold, there was a formation of bombers flying over The China World Hotel, right beside my building, straight down Chang An Jie.  Followed by another formation.  Followed by 3 or 4 groups of fighter jets…followed by more jets…followed by about 50 helicopters, and more jets and more bombers.

September 21, 2009's airforce flyby rehearsal

September 21, 2009's airforce flyby rehearsal

In fact, last Friday night, everyone with an office along Chang An Jie was kicked out around 3 p.m.  in preparation for the 60th Anniversary of the PRC parade rehearsal.  I stayed late…but on my way home, geez, I saw it all…tanks, armoured carriers, missile launchers, missiles, every kind of artillery you can imagine… oh it’s going to be a heck of a show on October 1.    And if the weather stays the way it is today…what a grand tribute it is going to be to 60 years of the PRC.  Too bad I won’t be here!

We’re looking forward to more rehearsals!

Now, if only we could get the Canadian government website working again in China…..

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Government of Canada main site blocked in Beijing!

O Canada, my home and native land…what have we done?  All I wanted to do was search the Canadian government staff directory, and low and behold, canada.gc.ca is blocked in Beijing!  Which word was it?  “English?” “French” or…heaven forbid… “français”?.  Was it Prime Minister Harper’s steely blue eyes that set off the censor?  Further testing reveals that some of the subdomains, international.gc.ca and ec.gc.ca all work.  But what’s the deal?  Is this an intential snub?

Furthermore, the website has been blocked for a couple of days, at least…and it’s still not fixed.  The people I contacted at the embassy didn’t seem to know much about it, but maybe I contacted the wrong people, so I won’t blame them.

What’s going on on canada.gc.ca?

Lifecycle GHG emissions of various sources of crude – Alberta

A new study commissioned by the Alberta (Canada) government demonstrates that lifecycle GHG emissions of different sources of crude oil are different, and that China (and all countries) need to take note of this in their transport sector emission calculations.

The Alberta government is trying desperately to make sure that oil sands oil doesn’t get blocked from the US market when new fuel policies come into effect.  As it stands, oil from Alberta’s oil sands will likely be blocked from California under the world-leading Low Carbon Fuel Standard.

In its efforts, the Government of Alberta commissioned two studies (TIAXExecutive Summary and Full Study -  and Jacobs Executive Summary and Full Study) to analyse the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with various types of crude oil – including crude processed from Canadian oil sands.  They found that some oil sands oil has lifecycle emissions comparable to some conventional crude oil (although most oil sands results turned out to be considerably higher than most conventional crude oils).  The attached image, from the Jacobs consultancy report, summarizes the findings.  Note that 70 gCO2e/MJ gasoline, which make up the bulk of the emissions, are embodied in the actual fuel.  The variation seen in this image is attributed to different production life cycles.  “Thermal” and “mining” refer to different development styles for oil sands in Canada.

Now, these reports have come under considerable criticism from organizations who don’t want to see oil sands / tar sands oil flowing into the US anymore, such as the Natural Resource Defence Council’s blog on the issue.  Honestly, this isn’t the interesting discussion for me.

The interesting thing for me is that different conventional crude oils have different lifecycle GHG emissions, possibly differing up to 10%, such as in the case between Arab Medium and Bonny Light, as illustrated above.

This means that any transport sector GHG emission analyses that assume one value for crude oil WTW emissions might be off by several percentage points, depending on the difference between the assumed weighted average of crude oil LCA GHG emissions, and the actual weighted average.

I like advanced biofuels as a means of reducing lifecycle GHG emissions in the transport sector, but if significant emission reductions can be achieved by simply shifting sources of crude oil from one supplier to another, this is also an important consideration to make, given that advanced biofuel technology is not quite commercialized yet.

It would be incumbent on China energy analysts to understand the relative sources of crude oil to China, and to undertake LCAs on each of those sources so as to minimize GHG emissions from the transport sector during this time of transition to alternative sources of energy.  Similarly, analyses on different sources of coal should be undertaken in order to accomplish the same lower carbon shifting of conventional energy sources.

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