Wednesday, November 9, 2011

China watch

A couple of items:

"China committing climate blackmail with super-powerful greenhouse gas, say critics," by my friend Christopher Mims at Grist. As I mentioned on Twitter, if U.S. politics were less dysfunctional, a cross-party coalition would be demanding a hard line against China on this. Climate hawks and foreign policy hawks would find common ground. Something like that might happen in a world where the parties were divided to some degree on the environment, but not in one where acknowledging that a greenhouse gas even might be a matter of concern is anathema to a large swath of the political spectrum. This Chinese gambit, moreover, is an example of why cap-and-trade, especially on an international scale, is a sub-optimal approach to carbon regulation.

"The Reckoning Begins." That's a reference to a new blog and upcoming book by Michael Moran, and to the shrinking gap between U.S. share of world output and China's share. I would add some caveats to the stark view Moran presents here. Years ago, Francis Fukuyama told me (in an interview for Insight magazine about his book Trust) that he had some doubts about China becoming as important as many people expected, because it is a "low-trust" society where holding together large organizations and networks is difficult. I'd add that nobody can be sure how much trust to put in China's economic statistics, or that one's rights and investments there will be honored. Having said all that, it's clear that learning Mandarin is not a bad idea in the 21st century.

1 comment:

Fake Nick Denton said...

Starting to agree re: cap and trade, though I say "starting to" only because I have been studiously avoiding the issue for years. IPCC just said feed in tarriffs are the best way to incentivize renewables, anyway.