Gaseous Situation

By Bryan • china, environment, politics, random world • 15 Nov 2004

A few days ago I mentioned a little about the ongoing dispute between China and Japan. Apparently a few days ago, the Japanese Self Defense Forces caught a Han Class Chinese nuclear submarinesnooping around Japanese waters. China, of course, is denying the allegations. Japan is linking the intrusion to an ongoing dispute over natural gas deposits in the East China Sea…vital for both fossil fuel poor nations.

Even as the battle for prehistoric biomass continues, the 1st generation of “Kyoto Commerce” is beginning as Japanese (ironic…) rush into China in an effort to cash in on the Kyoto agreement.

Trading house Sumitomo Corp. and two other Japanese firms plan to earn greenhouse gas emissions rights by reducing the level of global warming gases in China, a press report said Sunday.

They will take advantage of an international arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol, a UN pact on global warming, that accords emissions rights to countries and firms in return for their help in reducing greenhouse gases in developing countries.

The three firms plan to will collect methane gas generated at Chinese coal mines and use it to produce electricity, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said.

Although China is a member of Kyoto, they are not required to set greenhouse gas quotas. This creates a problem as Big Red definitely isn’t lacking in the CO2 department. However, one of the qualities of Kyoto that I always admired is that it is truly global in nature. It really takes the whole environmental proverb of “act locally, think globally” to a whole new level. With carbon emission trading, you (and companies) are now able to act both locally and globally. With the Japan/China methane project, everyone wins. Japan gets credits towards their GHG quotas, plus a little cash on the side, while China gets rid of the nasty methane, gains electricity and reduces their GHG output (something which they are not prepared to do on their own). Best of all, this is driven by the market and not through a forced government subsidy.

I’ve heard people complain that the emissions trading just moves the problem elsewhere. For example, shouldn’t Japan be reducing their own GHG emissions, instead of buying credits off someone else? But it doesn’t really matter where you reduce GHG emissions, just as long as they are reduced. GHG exist everywhere.

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