Is Asia up to the global warming challenge?

Putting a price on carbon a smart way for the region to go

Current thinking across the region sees a carbon price discouraging Asian competitiveness, but given the triumph of national approaches at Copenhagen, the simplest way to avoid the possibility of future entanglement in trade and environment embargoes is for industrialising Asian economies to factor in at production the price of carbon. With OECD countries going the same way, this will equalise a potentially divergently developing global marketplace and forestall interventions from America and Europe. Huw Slater (2010) from the Crawford School at ANU suggests that some in the Chinese Government are looking at carbon pricing being introduced progressively in China, perhaps “as low as 20 Yuan per tonne” to begin the market process of phasing out coal and accelerating renewable energy and to ensure the success of the next Five Year Plan.

The potentially transformative role of that plan is already understood by expert agencies like the IEA which has calculated that “if all the measures under consideration in China’s 12th five-year plan are enacted, the country would contribute more than a quarter of the emissions reductions needed by 2020 to put the world on course to keep greenhouse gases below 450ppm” (Financial Times, 10 November 2009).

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