Search Results for Tag: China
Record melt helps first Chinese ship across Arctic
Returning after several trips, I’ve been catching up on the Arctic news and noted with concern but unfortunately not really surprise that the Snow Dragon or Xuelong, a Chinese icebreaker, has become the first ship from China to cross the Arctic Ocean. It arrived in Iceland after sailing the Northern Route, along the coast of Russia. The expedition leader Huigen Yang, head of China’s Polar Research Institute, said he had expected a lot more ice along the route. The sea ice floating on the Arctic Ocean actually seems set to beat the record low from 2007. Clearly, Chinese interest is growing, as the melting ice opens up a shorter sea route and, of course potential access to oil, gas and minerals. The country has applied for observer status at the Arctic Council, which consist of the Arctic countries USA, Russia, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark (because of Greenland) and Iceland. China is not the only interested party outside the Arctic states. Japan, South Korea, The European Commission and Italy are also applying. Germany, Britain, France, Poland, Spain and the Netherlands are already observers.
What clearer a signal could you get that climate change is affecting the Arctic than interest from the world’s number 2 economy, China, which, alas, is also the world’s top greenhouse gas emitter?
DateAugust 20, 2012 | 12:28 pm
China and the Arctic – “a public area, just like the moon?
Now who could come up with a statement like that? It has to come from a country showing a growing interest in the region although it has no Arctic territory. The Chinese premier Wen Jiabao is coming to Europe tomorrow and the Arctic is to be a key focus of his trip. He’ll be spending eight days visiting Iceland, Sweden, Poland and Germany.
There are two main reasons for the Chinese interest: energy, and shipping routes. China is the world’s biggest consumer of energy and greatly interested in the resources becoming more easily accessible through climate change. The retreat of the sea ice is also opening up new routes for shipping in summer, which could cut the sea voyage between Shanghai and northern Europe by around 6,400 km. So there are difficult times ahead for those who want to protect the sensitive Arctic environment and wildlife from increasing traffic and risky exploration for oil, gas and minerals. I wrote about this some time ago, and it’s certainly going to keep coming up:
DateApril 19, 2012 | 1:08 pm
Climate Cup half-full or half-empty?
Following the comments on the New York climate summit in the media is like surfing. Up you go on a wave of optimism, then down into the depths of almost-despair. “Barack Obama warns world of climate catastrophe”, “Obama disappoints environmentalists”, “China’s carbon pledge boosts hope of global climate deal”. My colleague Christina Bergmann, one of our US correspondents, opts for “The Chances for Copenhagen have risen again”. Her optimistic headline reflects Ban Ki Moon’s satisfaction about climate change being right up at the top of the agenda of the world’s leaders. Japan and China also give grounds for optimism, Japan with a clear pledge to reduce emissions by 25 percent by 2020, China with a message of strong intent, but no firm targets.
President Obama is clearly in a difficult position, trying to get backing at home for what would represent a dramatic change in policy. Still, given signs by the top emitters China and the USA, Japan and key emerging nation India that the importance of an effective Copenhagen deal is paramount, we have to be optimistic. As one of the Green candidates in Germany’s election (coming up this Sunday) said to me at an event last week, “we have no option”. The alternative is too awful to contemplate.
DateSeptember 23, 2009 | 8:24 am
Climate Pep-Talk for world’s leaders in New York
You can’t get much higher a level than this one, with UN Secretary-General holding his own climate summit. I was at a UNFCCC briefing ahead of this, and they see it as Ban Ki Moon trying to get the urgency of an ambitious Copenhagen deal across to the world’s leaders. There are high hopes the Chinese will push the US to action by announcing some far-reaching plans.
There’s some background here:“Skeptical Environmentalist” Björn Lomborg not keen on climate conferences
Why maybe we do need all these climate talks
A tough task for Ban Ki Moon
DateSeptember 22, 2009 | 1:59 pm
“A huge leap for the G8, a small step for the climate?”
I have mixed feelings about what has been happening at the G8 summit. On the one hand, agreeing on the 2 degree limit and including the key players India and China is definitely positive and a step in the right direction. But it comes very late – and we still don’t know how we’re actually going to get there.
WWF’s climate and energy chief Regine Günther came out with the adaptation of the Neil Armstrong quote I’ve used in the title. An 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is all very well, she says, but there’s still ambiguity about the reference year and no clear 2020 goal.
Of course we know this is especially to accommodate US President Barack Obama. He wants more time to get regenerative energy in place and do a bit more PR at home. By comparison with the bad ol’ Bush years, we have to be thankful the new administration has finally brought the US on board the climate ship. But time is running out.
According to the EU, to keep the temperature rise to a maximum 2°C (which would already have disastrous consequences for people in some areas of the globe), emissions would have to peak by 2020 and be halved by 2050 as against 1990 levels.
The Arctic sea ice is melting – decreasing in surface area and thickness – at an alarming rate. (Well it alarms a lot of us, anyway).
The Greenland Ice Sheet – the largest body of freshwater ice in the northern hemisphere – is losing mass. Leading ice scientist Dorthe Dahl-Jensen describes the ice sheet as the “awakening giant”. Increased melting and ice discharge would have major consequences for global sea level. Greenland is a key area in the global climate process. The warming climate is also already having a considerable impact on the lifestyle of the people of Greenland.
And that is why I’ll be spending the next 3 weeks travelling in Greenland, interviewing scientists and locals about what’s happening to the climate there, how we measure this and likely consequences for the population of Greenland and the areas of the world whose coastal areas are likely to “go under”.
DateJuly 9, 2009 | 1:59 pm