【英语中国】中国环保举措成为世界关注焦点

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2010-10-6 02:25

小艾摘要: The first round of international climate talks hosted by China highlights the biggest energy consumer's struggle to expand its role in global-warming policy while shining a spotlight on the country' ...
The first round of international climate talks hosted by China highlights the biggest energy consumer's struggle to expand its role in global-warming policy while shining a spotlight on the country's ambitions and shortcomings in clean energy.

Few analysts or participants expect groundbreaking developments from this week's talks, set to begin Monday in the northeastern Chinese port city of Tianjin. But they are seen as a chance to narrow differences between various countries ahead of a year-end United Nations summit in Cancun to find a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty on global warming that expires in 2012.

'At the Tianjin conference we aim to reduce the divergence as much as possible and try to achieve positive progress so as to contribute to the progress of the Cancun conference,' Xie Zhenhua, China's top climate negotiator, said last week.

Last year's highly anticipated climate-change summit in Copenhagen ended acrimoniously with a last-minute nonbinding accord brokered by the U.S. and China, both of which had traded accusations of diplomatic snubs.

The talks will also shine a spotlight on China's ambitions -- and shortcomings -- in clean energy at a time when the industry has emerged as a battleground between the China and the U.S. For now, climate-change legislation has been largely shelved in the U.S. Congress, but trade tensions have intensified over China's efforts to build up its green technology sector.

When the Kyoto treaty was signed in 1997, China and other developing countries were exempted from limits on greenhouse-gas emissions. The U.S., which opposed that exemption, never ratified the treaty.

Recently, China eclipsed the U.S. as the world's biggest energy user and biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. It is also on track to surpass Japan this year as the world's second-largest economy after the U.S.

At the same time, China has become a superpower in clean-energy technologies such as solar and wind power. Six of the world's top ten photovoltaic-solar-panel makers are based in China, according to consultancy iSuppli, and China exports 90% of domestic production. China also has the world's highest new installed capacity of wind-power turbines.

'The importance of new energy to China could be equivalent to energy-efficient cars for Japan in the 1970s and the [personal computer] industry for the U.S. throughout the 1980s and 1990s,' investment bank Credit Suisse said in a September report.

Chinese companies in the clean-technology sectors lead the world in the number of initial public offerings for the last five quarters, according to industry analyst Dallas Kachan, of Dallas, Texas-based Kachan & Co.

Backed by the government and supported by cheap loans from state-owned banks, Chinese companies have also pioneered development of electric vehicles, advanced batteries, and power plants that can burn coal more efficiently and store carbon emissions underground.

China's growing prowess in clean energy will be on display this week in Tianjin, which, in collaboration with the Singapore government, is developing a district based on environmental urban planning called EcoCity.

International environmental groups are planning to tour some of the showcase Chinese projects, including GreenGen, a power plant being built by a state-owned utility. When completed, it will be the first commercial-scale plant to use a technology that turns coal into gas, making it easier to capture carbon. The homegrown Chinese technology is being licensed overseas and is drawing attention from some environmental groups as a tool to help contain emissions.

While many analysts see China's strength in clean technology as helpful for the effort to rein in emissions, its policies have also stirred opposition. Critics say it gives Chinese firms unfair advantages and violates international trade treaties.

In September, the United Steelworkers filed a complaint with U.S. trade officials claiming that China is unfairly subsidizing its clean-energy sector. And last week, 181 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote to President Barack Obama, urging his administration to address China's use of 'unfair trade practices' to 'globally dominate the green technology sector.'

That criticism could further complicate climate talks. One of the key issues for China is securing a mechanism to help fund clean-technology transfers from rich countries to poorer ones -- but the very success of China's green companies could undermine China's claims to be a developing country in need of further assistance.

The Tianjin talks will also bring into focus the policy commitments China has made to reduce its carbon footprint. China committed last year to cut carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product by at least 40% from 2005 levels by 2020, and Chinese officials plan to enshrine that pledge into their 12th five-year economic plan, the country's economic blueprint set to start in 2011.

Activists say these actions have given China greater stature in the talks, while the U.S. has lost credibility after failing to move on climate legislation. The two countries account for a combined 40% of world emissions of carbon dioxide.

But China's failures are also drawing attention. China is struggling to meet a goal of increasing energy efficiency 20% by the end of 2010 from 2005 levels. And despite its efforts, carbon emissions are soaring so fast that some analysts say that by 2030 China will have emitted more carbon that the U.S. ever had in history.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged earlier this year to use 'an iron fist' to reach the year-end goal, setting off a mad dash as local governments shut down factories and even rationed electricity to hospitals and turned off traffic lights to reach their electricity quotas. Critics say many factories that were shut will restart next year.

Meanwhile, some big Chinese companies, such as oil group PetroChina Corp. and personal computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd., are beginning to invest in reducing their carbon intensity to meet the government's goals, according to a report last month by the Carbon Disclosure Project.

中国首次主办的国际气候大会彰显出这个能源消耗第一大国正在努力扩大其在全球变暖政策上的地位,同时外界感到,中国在清洁能源领域既有宏图大志,也存在一些软肋。

Reuters中国计划启动好几个碳交易试点项目,这突显出中国控制温室气体排放的迫切性。这次气候大会2010年10月4日在中国北方海港城市天津举行,分析师或与会者几乎都不指望会议能出现什么突破性进展,但认为这是一次缩小各国观点差异的机会,它能为联合国今年底在墨西哥坎昆(Cancun)举行的气候峰会奠定基础。坎昆峰会的目标是打造一个新气候协定,以取代2012年到期的全球变暖国际条约“京都议定书”(Kyoto Protocol)。

“在天津气候大会上,我们将尽可能减少分歧,力图取得积极进展,为坎昆峰会做出贡献,”中国负责气候问题谈判的高官谢振华上周说道。

2009年备受期待的哥本哈根气候变化峰会在争吵中结束,直至最后一刻,各国才在美国和中国的促成下达成一项不具法律约束力的协议,而中美两国也相互指责对方在玩外交手腕。

此次的天津气候大会也将凸现出中国在清洁能源领域的雄心以及存在的软肋,而清洁能源行业正成为中美较量的一个战场。目前,美国国会已大体搁置了气候变化方面的立法工作,而围绕中国发展环保科技的努力,中美之间的贸易紧张气氛正在与日俱增。

京都议定书签署于1997年,规定中国和其他发展中国家不受温室气体排放上限的限制;而美国反对这种豁免,拒绝签署协议。

最近,中国取代美国成为全世界最大的能源消耗国和最大的温室气体排放者,而且GDP也将在2010年超过日本,成为仅次于美国的全球第二大经济体。

与此同时,中国已成为太阳能、风能等绿色能源技术领域的超级强国。据咨询公司iSuppli统计,全球前十大光伏太阳能板制造商中,有六家在中国。这六家90%的产量用于出口,而且中国也已成为全世界风能发电机组装机容量最高的国家。

“新能源对于中国的重要性,好比经济型汽车对于20世纪70年代的日本,或者个人电脑行业对于20世纪80年代到90年代的美国,”投资银行瑞士信贷集团(Credit Suisse)在2010年9月的一份报告中谈道。

德克萨斯州达拉斯市的一位行业分析人士卡坎(Dallas Kachan)称,过去五个季度以来,绿色环保板块的中国企业在股票首次公募的数量方面位居全球首位。

在政府支持以及国有银行低成本贷款的推动下,中国企业在一些环保领域处于领先地位,如电动汽车、高科技电池,以及煤炭燃烧效率更高且能将碳排放储存在地下的火电厂等等。

在本周召开的天津气候大会上,中国将显现出在绿色能源领域日益强大的实力。天津与新加坡政府合作,正在开发一个环保社区,名为“生态城市”(EcoCity)。

国际环保组织正计划考察中国的一些环保示范项目,包括绿色煤电有限公司(GreenGen),一个由国有电厂建设的发电站。该项目完工后,将成为第一个把煤炭气化技术投入商业运营的电站,这种技术能使碳捕捉变得更加简便。这项由中国自主开发的技术有助于控制二氧化碳排放,它目前正在向海外输出使用授权,并已得到一些环保组织的关注。

虽然许多分析师认为中国在清洁能源领域的实力有助于减少全球碳排放,但中国政府的相关政策也引起一些反对意见。批评人士说,政府的扶植行为给中国企业带来不正当的竞争优势,违反了相关的国际贸易协定。

2010年9月,美国钢铁工人联合会(United Steelworkers)向美国贸易官员提起申述,指控中国对其清洁能源企业存在违反公平的政府补贴行为。上周,181名美国众议员联名向奥巴马总统写信,敦促美国政府对中国使用“不公平贸易手段企图垄断全球环保技术领域”的做法拿出应对措施。

这些批评意见会导致气候谈判的进一步复杂化,中国的一项关键提议是建立一个全球资助机制,协助清洁能源技术从发达国家转移到发展中国家;但中国环保企业所取得的成就反而会削弱中国作为发展中国家获取进一步资助的能力。

天津气候大会也将引起人们对于中国减排承诺的关注。2009年,中国承诺到2020年,单位GDP碳排放强度至少比2005年的水平降低40%,并将该承诺纳入到十二五规划当中。十二五规划是中国经济发展的最新蓝图,将于2011年启动。

环保活动人士说,这些举措使中国在气候谈判中居于更有利的位置,而美国的气候立法工作滞后,有损其大国信誉。中美两国合计的碳排放占全球碳排放总量的40%。

然而,中国在环保方面的一些软肋也在受到关注。中国承诺到2010年末将能源使用效率在2005年的水平上提高20%,目前正努力向该目标靠拢。然而,中国的碳排放增长速度如此之快,以至于一些分析师认为,中国到2030年的碳排放总量将超过美国有史以来碳排放的总和。

中国国务院总理温家宝在2010年初表示,要用“铁拳”手段在年底之前实现承诺,从而引发地方政府关闭工厂的一轮疯狂热潮,它们甚至对医院用电实行定量配给供应,并关闭了部份交通信号灯,以将用电控制在额度以内。批评人士说,许多被关闭的工厂明年又将重新开工。

国际间碳资讯披露平台“碳揭露计划”(Carbon Disclosure Project)在2010年9月公布的一份报告称,一些中国大型企业,如中石油(PetroChina Corp.)和个人电脑制造商联想集团(Lenovo Group Ltd.),正开始加大投入,力争降低碳排放强度,以达到政府设定的目标。

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