From The New York Times and Climate Wire:
It's refreshing to see that the world has moved past the thinking that dominated the beginning of this decade. During that time period, we heard a lot of "we shouldn't get serious about climate change because the other side won't." How much of that was due to President Bush is debatable. Although I'd say that he had a great deal to do with this attitude.
Image from New York Times
When European and Chinese scientists first agreed to collaborate on capturing carbon dioxide from power plants and storing it underground, China's entire carbon capture and sequestration "team" was composed of two Tsinghua University graduate students.
Less than five years later, the landscape is markedly different. China's first near-zero-emissions coal plant won state approval this month -- an apparent formality, since construction already is far under way. Two other pilots are in the works, including one in inner Mongolia that could be the largest sequestration project in the world. Conferences on carbon capture in China now routinely feature high-level government and industry leaders.
And one of those once-lowly grad students, analysts said, is among China's negotiators at the international forum of the world's 17 major economies meeting on energy issues next month in Mexico City.
"It's a definite shift in attitude," said Matthew Webb, coal campaign leader in Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who once led the ongoing attempts at cooperation between Europe and China on carbon capture and sequestration, or CCS.
"It's not political taboo anymore," he said. "It's a reality that needs to be addressed."
I also like seeing that instead of an inconvenience, tackling climate change is being viewed as an opportunity. I see the development of a renewable energy and other technologies, like carbon capture, as great chances to do something productive with economies that have fallen off a cliff.
Clean coal has a wide range of issues. Ultimately, it may not be the best thing for humanity to embrace. Other truly renewable energy developments would seem to be ideal. Coal is king though. And it will be for some time. But the willingness to take the idea seriously across the globe, and especially in China and, hopefully, America, is a step in the right direction.