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A Reflection on Copenhagen

We wish we could report Copenhagen was a brilliant success, but unfortunately not so folks.  Initiatives fell severely short of  our hopes. Here’s guest blogger Clay Bedwell’s take:

Years of anticipating a climate conference where the US was represented by anyone but a half-witted oil baby quickly faded away when Win Jabao of China eagerly took the roll of DoucheLord, stripping the deal of almost every meaningful goal.  (Mark Lynas provides a spectacular first hand account of the negotiations.) Ultimately, like Bush at Kyoto, China chose the all mighty dollar over the environment, failing to understand that economic growth and sustainability are anything but mutually exclusive.

To a certain extent though its clear that China understands the value of sustainability.  They tout some of the fastest growing and most aggressively subsidized solar and wind industries in the world, and they have made their intention perfectly clear; one day they will supply the rest of the world with Chinese made renewable energy hardware.  Whether this prophecy comes true or not, it’s important to understand the distinction between renewable energy implementation and responsible renewable energy implementation. Not surprisingly, China has a preference towards the first, most notably, building the world’s largest wind farm in Dunhuang, an oasis town in the Gobi Desert, before there is even a grid constructed in the area to transport the power to distant populations.  In fact, China has chosen to completely ignore the fact that the Dunhuang Wind Farm is so remote that it is to a large part useless and a significant environmental detriment.

The question is does the global market have an appetite for more irresponsible development and low quality products?

The US and Europe tangoed with this approach in the ’70s and then again in the early ’90s, only to have it undermine long term industry growth in both instances, so logic would say no.  Unfortunately as we’ve learned from Copenhagen, in business and politics, everything takes a back seat to price points, so consider me pessimistic.

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