Threatened American jobs and higher gas prices were the points of attack that deep-sixed the latest effort to put a price on U.S. greenhouse gas emissions — a cap-and-trade bill that died in the Senate on Friday. This defensive posture, seeking to preserve energy-intensive transportation and industries, is short-sighted in light of the transition to alternative forms of energy underway worldwide.
China gets it. Not only is it racing to implement renewable energy (ie setting a nationwide renewable portfolio standard for utilities, installing enough wind power in just the last two years to edge out wind-energy pioneer Denmark for fifth place in the Global Wind Energy Council’s annual capacity rankings, and building a photovoltaics export business essentially overnight). China designs these initiatives to favor the development of domestic industries.
In a recent article for Spectrum magazine I show how China’s dramatic installation of wind power parks is occuring despite rock-bottom pricing — a situation that analysts say favors local players. See China Doubles Wind Watts in Spectrum’s May 2008 issue.
Note that while John McCain and Barack Obama both claim to get it on both green jobs and climate change, neither bothered to show up for Friday’s vote.