There have been a lot of problems getting effective global environmental agreements (Kyoto and other attempts) that actually reduce soot and carbon emissions. Carbon emissions keep going up and soot is also increasing. This is probably because in spite of the talk the issues of carbon emissions and soot emissions are not viewed as being worth fixing or only worth being fixed by someone else. The sources are the carbon emissions from coal power and cars, ships, planes and trains. There would be the difficult complete elimination and there is significant reduction. Natural gas produces about one third of the emissions of coal power. There are far more effective pollution mitigation systems that can be placed on power plants, factories and vehicles. If we assume that this is a problem that needs to be fixed faster then how could it be done ? To at least stop increasing then China and developing countries cannot continue to double coal power plants and cannot gasify coal and Japan cannot use the methane from the ocean floor.
China does want to build out and export cheap nuclear power plants
China does want to build high speed rail everywhere around the world
China does want to build cleaner cities for 600 million more people in China and billions in other countries
The US wants to exports its shale natural gas revolution
The US has the lead with electric cars
Japan and the US have the lead with hybrid cars
These trade talks are solely about tariffs. Total global trade in environmental goods such as wind turbines and solar panels amounts to $1 trillion and growing fast. Tariffs on some of these products are as high as 35%. Eliminating needless taxes at the world’s borders would speed the flow of new green technologies to all the places in the world that need them urgently in the struggle to confront climate change.
This list is a good starting point – but only a starting point.
The Biggest hurdle will be agreeing on a definition of an “environmental good”. Is it one whose purpose is environmental protection? Or should the definition be broader? Should it include goods that perform more efficiently or environmentally than the alternatives? How about goods that are made in a green way? What about green component parts?
Trade negotiators seem inclined for now toward a fairly narrow definition. They have chosen to begin with a list of 54 environmental products
Another hurdle will be agreeing upfront on how to add new products easily as green technologies continue to evolve. WTO members have learned this lesson from their frustrating experience with an agreement abolishing tariffs on information technology products. The IT product list is frozen in 1996. Negotiators are trying now to add such “newfangled” IT products as tablets and smart phones.
The goal is for these tariff cuts to take effect once enough WTO Members have joined that they account for a “critical mass” of world trade in environmental goods. The countries launching the negotiations account for 86% of that trade. A “critical mass” may be viewed as 90%. At that point, the tariff cuts would be extended to all 160 WTO Members – including those who have not yet signed the agreement.
Nextbigfuture proposes green supply chain and trying to encourage
For air pollution and emissions from now to 2030 some keys would be to get China to not increase coal usage so much and ideally to reduce coal usage significantly.
Arrange the green rules where the companies and countries who want to build or rebuild greener developing world cities, transportation have to green their supply chain.
If it is company by company who has to prove they sourced clean energy and transportation before participating in trillions in new projects then Walmart is incentivized to clean up its supply chain. Demand for coal power in China drops. China is encouraged to speed up nuclear power and other clean energy construction.
This can be called Freer trade green rules. The meaning of environmentally green has been messed up.
It can also be called Freer trade with clean energy rules. Clean energy meaning lower soot and carbon emission energy. If we were serious then nuclear energy would be a part of it and natural gas with emission controls would be permitted.
Green trade zones and clean energy trade zones would be set up and expanded over time. Special clean energy economic development areas. These types of areas were proven ways to push out new business rules that were more effective. This was done decades ago in China where some cities had special economic development rules. Trade zones were effective in the past for bringing down tariffs. Clean energy favored tariffs would be rules that North America and Europe could adopt which would incentivize the change in China and other countries in order to get the economic access and opportunity expansion.
The negotiation logjam would be broken. The developed world customers would lead and the developing world would follow. Cities and energy would be rebuilt. The solution to the transition if this were a serious issue.
What to include is listed at the top. You include what is needed for the big economic players to get on board.
Allow (regulatory rules adjustment) and incentive China to build out cheap nuclear power.
Allow the US to do even more with natural gas.
Other natural gas needs to be speed up in China, Europe and Australia.
Cities need to be and rebuilt clean.
Coal power needs to be stopped. The fastest way to do this is to have high temperature nuclear power that replaces the coal burner but uses the same facility, grid and turbines. Admittedly natural gas transition from coal would also work but would still leave one third of the emissions.
Build out the transportation.
Convert more of the existing cars and the new cars to vastly lower emissions.
Convert ships, trains and planes as well.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.