Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Solar panel trade disputes

The Chinese solar story only gets more interesting.  USA slaps a serious tariff on Chinese solar panels over accusations of dumping.  But China hardly blinks because it looks like they intend to use up their production capacity on themselves.  And to show how serious they are, they have announced a real carbon cap.

All I can say is, "OK hotshots, show us what you can do.  You want to show us why China was sometimes thought of as the Middle Kingdom, well now is the time."

Solar wars: US penalizes China by doubling tariffs on panels

RT June 04, 2014

The US plans to impose additional import duties of between 18-35% on Chinese solar panel makers, in order to protect the American market from the dumping of Chinese products. This marks an escalation of the US–China trade war that started in 2012.

The new duties proposed by the Commerce Department are higher than the initial tariffs of between 24 to 36 percent on panels imported from China that were announced in 2012.

The decision came after a US investigation showed China had flooded solar panels onto the American market at illegally low prices.

The US hopes this move will boost domestically produced solar panels. China is currently the world’s biggest producer of solar panels.

Earlier tariffs had only applied to the cells used to make the panels, but now extra duties will be imposed on both the cells and the final solar panel products. Chinese companies were able to dodge the hefty levies by assembling panels from cells produced outside of China, mainly from Taiwan.

In a preliminary decision, the Commerce Department will impose the taxes on key solar-energy exporting countries. A 35.21 percent duty will be placed on products by Wuxi Suntech Power and 5 of its affiliate companies, 18.56 on any imported material from Trina Solar, and 26.89 percent on other Chinese producers.

On top of that, the Commerce Department is expected to announce additional anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panels on July 25, the Financial Times reports.

Critics say that by introducing higher tariffs, the overall price of solar power across America could rise, which will slow down the country’s effort to use more renewable sources.

"The ruling is a major setback for the entire US solar industry because it will immediately increase the price of solar power and cost American jobs in one of fastest-growing sectors of the US economy," the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy said in a statement on their website on Wednesday.

China was also angry, and its Ministry of Commerce accused the US of using trade rules to protect its own industry. The move “would not solve the development problems of the US solar industry,” it said in a statement posted on its website.

Europe also struggled to find a happy medium with Chinese solar panels by setting a minimum price for panels and a volume limit through 2015.

Last year the US accused China of stealing confidential data and business secrets in order to give Chinese companies competitive advantage over American corporations in the nuclear and solar technology sectors.

The companies that allegedly suffered from espionage are such industrial giants as Alcoa World Alumina, Allegheny Technologies, SolarWorld, US Steel Corporation, the United Steelworkers Union and Westinghouse Electric.

Beijing retaliated to US duties by imposing its own tariffs of up to 57 percenton imports of polysilicon- a type of silicon from the US used to make solar cells. more

China pledges to limit carbon emissions for first time

Absolute cap to come into effect from 2016, climate adviser says on the day after US announces ambitious carbon plan

Adam Vaughan and Tania Branigan in Beijing
theguardian.com, 3 June 2014

China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, will limit its total emissions for the first time by the end of this decade, according to a top government advisor.

He Jiankun, chairman of China's Advisory Committee on Climate Change, told a conference in Beijing on Tuesday that an absolute cap on carbon emissions will be introduced.

"The government will use two ways to control CO2 emissions in the next five-year plan, by intensity and an absolute cap," Reuters reported He as saying. Though not a government official, He is a high level advisor.

While environmentalists broadly welcomed the remarks, they cautioned that it was far from clear at what level the cap would be set and said it needed to be enforceable.

China's emissions have risen dramatically in the last two decades, overtaking those from the US – the previous biggest producer – in 2006. Although the average Chinese person's carbon footprint is still much lower than the average American's, it is catching up, and is now on a par with the average European's.

He's remarks come just a day after the Obama administration implemented tough new rules to cut carbon emissions from power plants 30% by 2030.

“The timing is very auspicious,” said Frank Jotzo, an expert on the economics and policy of climate change at Australian National University and a lead author on the fifth assessment report from the IPCC, the UN’s climate science panel.

Jotzo, who is attending the conference in Beijing, added: “Globally I think we are in a much better situation than we were leading into the [major UN climate change talks] Copenhagen summit in 2009. One and a half years out from the Paris climate conference, where a new agreement is to be struck, we very likely have some coordination behind the scenes and some competition for leadership on the issue.”

But he cautioned: “The announcement of intent of an absolute target doesn’t tell us anything substantive....[On the US side] we have a policy for the electricity sector but not an overall national number.”

China set its first ever carbon targets in 2009, in the run-up to the Copenhagen summit, which was attended by Obama, Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and other world leaders but ended in a weak deal with non-binding targets. The previous target was for a cut of emissions relative to its economic growth, by 40-45% by 2020, compared to 2005 levels, meaning absolute carbon emissions could still increase as China's economy grew.

But the new cap will be the first time that the country, which has been plagued by pollution problems in large part due to the burning of carbon-intensive coal, has promised to limit absolute emissions. Officials have not yet put a figure on what level the cap will be.

He told Reuters that the country's emissions were likely to peak at around 11bn tonnes CO2 equivalent – up from 7-9.5bn tonnes CO2e now – by 2030.

The move is likely to be welcomed by Christiana Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN climate secretariat, who oversees long-running efforts to reach an international deal on climate change. The Copenhagen meeting, but countries have agreed to reach a new deal next year at a blockbuster summit in Paris. The UN climate negotiations resume on Wednesday in Bonn.

Doug Parr, Greenpeace UK's chief scientist, said that the move by China, so shortly after the US announcement, showed "momentum" in the climate talks process.

“In the last 24 hours we’ve had two major announcements from China and the US which send a powerful signal to other world leaders ahead of crucial climate talks later this year. The Chinese government has already set out ambitious plans to cut the country’s reliance on coal – an additional cap on CO2 suggests the country’s leaders are serious about tackling their emission problem," he said.

Li Shuo, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace in China, said a carbon cap was a “positive and natural step forward” following the adoption of a cap on energy use, announced in 2011.

“The signal He Jiankun delivered, if it does represent the government view, is a positive note. But we need to see a number and we need some clarification,” he said. “The key battle we lost with the energy cap is that it’s aspirational and not attached to administrative consequences. That makes the seriousness of the target questionable.”

The overall figure needed to be broken down into regional targets, with officials evaluated on their success in meeting them, to be effective, he argued. He also warned that it would be a “climate disaster” if China’s emissions did not peak until 2030.

Wu Changhua, greater China director of the Climate Group, said the comments should be seen in the context of China’s pilot carbon trading schemes. Many people were keen to see a swift move to the establishment of a national mechanism, he said, while others thought that in the meantime there should be an expansion and linking up of existing regional platforms. more


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