A low-carbon economy entails not just a sustainable use of energy, from low-carbon sources, but also low-carbon exports. The Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index, released by the Climate Institute, measures the ability of G20 nations to flourish in a low-carbon economy, which shows East Asia overtaking Europe and the United States in climate change-targeting actions. Also increasing its preparedness in the face of climate change is Singapore with the opening of the new Centre for Climate Research which aims to better predict weather patterns in its tropical climate. Read more
Asia leads on climate action
Eco News Byron Bay Canberra [AAP]:
China now earns as much from selling solar panels as it does from shoes, as Asia’s emerging economies prepare to prosper in a future that limits carbon emissions, a report says.
A new index measuring the ability of G20 nations to flourish in a low-carbon economy shows East Asia has taken over from Europe and the United States when it comes to action on climate change.
Japan, China and South Korea took out three of the top five spots on the Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index, released on Tuesday as part of the Climate Institute’s report on global climate action.
France leads the way, largely on the back of its low-emission nuclear energy sector, followed by Japan, China, South Korea and Great Britain.
Australia, though making slight improvements, languishes in 17th place and has been overtaken by Indonesia in its readiness for a low-carbon future.
The data is from 2010 and doesn’t include the impact of the federal government’s clean energy laws like the carbon price, but does include significant world events like the global recession.
The head of the Climate Institute, John Connor, says as other nations put constraints on carbon and pursue economic gains with less pollution, Australia may be left behind if it opts out of real action.
‘We could become stranded trying to sell something that is no longer of interest,’ he told AAP.
‘If it’s not seen to be doing its fair share, it could suffer both diplomatically and economically.’
Mr Connor said Australia had significant ‘lead in our saddlebags’, running a high-carbon economy in terms of both energy usage and exports.
Investment in clean energy, one measure of low-carbon preparedness, had stalled in Australia with industry uncertain about the future of the Renewable Energy Target (RET), he said.
Clean energy investments in Asia, meanwhile, hit $270 billion in 2012, while China earned $36 billion selling solar panels – about what it made from its traditional market in shoes.
Mr Connor said China was pushing for an emissions trading scheme and had indicated it wanted to rein in its coal consumption, in part to combat air pollution.
Many nations weren’t driven to take action on climate change for green reasons, but were motivated by a range of self-interest matters like energy security and productivity growth.
But even taking current efforts into account, the world was still on track to a global temperature rise above two degrees Celsius by 2050, a rate accepted by most nations as dangerous.
For this reason, Mr Connor said shifting to a carbon-constrained future where nations tried to get the most possible from a tonne of CO2 wasn’t going to be easy.
‘Australia, by virtue of its place (on the index), will be one of the ones which will suffer the most if we don’t really double down on low-carbon improvements,’ he said.
More reliable forecasts with new climate centre?
Research centre will focus on Singapore’s tropical conditions
By Grace Chua in The Straits Times (27 March 2013):
IS IT possible to predict monsoon storms more accurately? How will climate change affect rainfall in Singapore?
The new Centre for Climate Research, which opened officially yesterday, will tackle these questions, before advising agencies on managing water resources and flood risks, for example.
The centre, which is part of the National Environment Agency’s Meteorological Service, will be led by senior British researcher Chris Gordon, the former head of the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre, Britain’s climate research arm.
One of its first priorities will be to work on Singapore’s second climate-change vulnerability study, the first phase of which is expected to be done by late 2014, said Dr Gordon, who begins as director on April 15.
It will use the latest climate models to update the first such study, started in 2007, to improve the reliability of predictions.
The centre will also study poorly understood tropical weather systems which have unique features such as thunderstorms caused by convection – hot moist air rising and forming clouds.
The centre, located in Paya Lebar, hopes to produce seasonal weather forecasts. For example, while February is normally warm and dry, a monsoon surge made last month exceptionally wet. Researchers hope to predict such unusual patterns ahead of time.
“The single biggest issue is to explain uncertainty in a way that doesn’t cause people to lose confidence. People don’t want a range of outcomes – they want the outcome,” Dr Gordon said.
The centre, which will cost between $7 million and $8 million a year to run and have a staff of 25, is part of national plans to build climate science capabilities, and focus on Singapore’s tropical climate.
It was first mooted in 2011, a year after intense rain caused flash floods across the island, including the Orchard Road shopping district.
The director-general of the Meteorological Service, Ms Wong Chin Ling, said: “There is a common misconception that climate change and environmental issues are a problem for the distant future.
“The reality is that preparedness must begin in the present.”