Archive for July, 2010

Paris

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

I was quite pleased earlier this year when I was asked to be an instructor in IFP’s new Executive MBA program in Energy, which is run in conjunction with the BI Norwegian School of Management and the Business School of Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.  So I added some additional lectures in this year’s Paris visit, for a group of young executives from around the world….  but truthfully, I’ve never had any trouble adding a bit more time to my Paris visits!


EDF’s Chine

I had flown to Paris from Beijing, and during my China stay I had had discussions about a proposed new programmatic CDM project there that would be developed by Électricité de France (EDF).  Interestingly, when I got to Paris, I found that EDF’s Foundation was sponsoring an exhibition entitled “Chine, Célébration de la Terre,” which  focused on the relationship that Chinese farmers have long had with the land….  and so of course I had to check that out.


For the Love of God, Laugh

Some of you may be worried that I seem to be o.d.’ing on China lately – writing about Chinese farmers in my Paris postings, no less! — but you can rest assured that that was not my only Parisian stop.  I also checked out an exhibit in the Musee Maillol with a more modernist bent, entitled Vanités de Caravage à Damien Hirst.  You might have heard about Damien Hirst – the controversial, death-oriented doyen of the ‘Britart’ scene, and probably the richest artist in the world today.  He is most famous, of course, for his 2007 piece “For the Love of God,” a platinum cast of a human skull encrusted with 8601 diamonds.  The Paris exhibit included several Hirst pieces, as well as other ‘memento mori’ by Picasso, George Braques, Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and others.  I didn’t get to see the original skull, but instead a print entitled “For the Love of God, Laugh” – a derivative piece sprinkled with diamond dust, instead of diamonds.  Well…..  okay.  But still, perhaps as far from Chinese peasant life as one could get…  n’est pas??!

When a Billion Chinese Jump

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

 

On this trip I was reading the new book by Jonathan Watts entitled When a Billion Chinese Jump:  How China Will Save Mankind – Or Destroy It.  Watts is an award-winning, Beijing-based environmental correspondent for the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper, and I had met him in China on a previous visit.  He told me then that he was writing an environmental book about the country, & so I’ve been keeping an eye out for it…. and anxiously bought it as soon as I saw it.

It’s an interesting & very insightful read….. but also what one top UK literary critic called “a revealing and depressing book.”  In it, Watts travels around the country, discussing the wide range of environmental concerns in appropriate settings – biodiversity and the demise of the Yangtze dolphin in Hubei Province; urban consumption in Shanghai; logging in the forests of Heilongjiang; coal and pollution problems in Shanxi; etc., etc.  Having spent the weeks of this trip talking about monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) aspects of energy/environmental conditions within the country, I readily recognized the situation when I read that:  “a political haze obscures the subject of pollution,” or later, a legal expert’s view that “only a tenth of China’s environmental laws are enforced…”

But Watts throws an interesting curve at the end:

“Having visited almost every province in the country, I am far more concerned about Shanghai’s friendly shoppers than Henan’s snarling polluters.  The latter are a recognized problem that can be cleared up with sufficient time, money and government effort.  The former, however, are hailed as potential saviors of the global economy.  Nobody wants to stop them.”

Beijing

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010


Beida lecturer

I spent a full ten days in mid-June as a guest of Peking University, meeting with faculty members & students in the College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, and giving a couple of lectures there entitled “The Development of Emissions Trading in the U.S.” and “Next Steps for Emissions Trading in China?”   The students were really quite knowledgeable about this topic – no doubt because of Prof. Zhang Shiqiu and her other faculty colleagues (including a new addition, Prof. Xu Jianhua, who completed her Ph.D. in the Engineering & Public Policy program at Carnegie Mellon in 2007, and who coordinated all of my lecture arrangements).

Another interesting part of this Beijing visit was a chance to meet up with Prof. Lu Yonglong & his colleagues at the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences (RCEES) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.  An article in the 19 March 2010 issue of Science about China’s efforts to clean up its environment mentioned that Prof. Lu advocated using real-time monitoring systems to speed up progress and to identify ‘who is doing the polluting.’  I contacted him about his quotes in that article, and he graciously invited me to come and make a presentation to his group during my Beijing visit.  Those of you who have incredible memories might remember that this was not my first visit to RCEES – I was there in late 2006 & gave a presentation for Prof. Zhuang Yahui and his colleagues about the Clean Development Mechanism.   Prof. Zhuang is now long retired, but it was really very nice to be back at RCEES once again, and I look forward to further collaborations with Prof. Lu and his colleagues.

Hong Kong & Shenzhen

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010


Star Ferry coming in to Wanchai

In early June I was in Hong Kong & Shenzhen once again, exploring some opportunities associated with real-time energy & environmental monitoring.  Chris Tung in HK and Dr. Yu Yanqui in Shenzhen were especially helpful on this trip, arranging for me to make presentations about this subject in their respective cities.   I had previously worked with Chris on a study for the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and he set up a presentation at his law firm K&L Gates for colleagues, clients, and selected guests.   Dr. Yu arranged for a similar presentation at the Shenzhen International Technology Promotion Center for Sustainable Development, for a group of energy and environmental officials associated with a newly developing emissions exchange there, and I got some very useful feedback from both audiences.  Other business meetings kept the schedule pretty full — although I still found time to ride the Star Ferry back to Wanchai from Kowloon on a beautiful summer afternoon.


The rough life in Cheung Chau

Another high point of this visit — and another ferry ride! — was a delightful weekend trip to see Liam Salter (pictured right).  Liam runs a carbon consulting company called RESET (see previous Oct. ’08 HK posting), and lives out on Cheung Chau, a 35 minutes trip from Central on the ‘outlying islands’ ferry.  The lanes & alleyways are very narrow there – special vehicles are required for police & fire & trash collection – and we first walked around the island, & then had lunch in an open air restaurant overlooking the beach, a few hundred paces from Liam’s home (nicely nestled in a lush, green setting).  Liam’s wife Ina Pozon coordinates the Asia Water Project: China project, a research/web-portal effort which targets China’s environmental concerns on the water side, and I had a chance to meet her too, as well as the rest of the family.  I have to admit that I’m more than a bit envious of Liam’s lifestyle — it makes suburban Philadelphia seem more than a bit conventional and bourgeois!

Still another highlight was a chance to catch up with Hubert Tose, whom I had previously worked with at IETG & Anemone.  An even earlier HK posting (August ’07) showed Hubert in the Hong Kong Tatler, and by hanging around with him, I too was able to make the ‘high society’ scene in HK on this trip….  with proof,  a photo in the Asian Tatler!  The reason for this was an invitation to the Asian premier of ‘Sharkwater,’ an award-winning documentary film decrying the ongoing slaughter of sharks in the world’s oceans.  The target, of course, is their fins — long used to make ‘shark fin soup,’ a Chinese delicacy since the Ming Dynasty.   Demand for this luxury item has increased along with China’s growing economic power, and the film highlights the devastation this has caused for that creature, as well as the ocean’s ecosystem.   HK has been a center of the fin trade, and although demand in the city is apparently decreasing, that of the Mainland has been increasing – yet another powerful example of very short-sighted thinking (or, better yet, lack of any thinking at all) on the environmental front.