Friday, June 4, 2010

The Australian-Chinese Partnership could be bad for Australia and the rest of the World

Australia has just come out of the worst drought in over 1000 years. The country has become the present example of the future impact that global warming will have on the rest of world. Yet, the country has been unable to get a carbon cap/credit legislation passed and it continues to export the largest carbon emitting energy resource, coal, to other countries to support their energy needs. In fact, coal is the major export for Australia and one of its primary recipients of this exported energy resource is China.

Although China is making great strides to shift its energy resources to renewable ones, its infrastructure is outdated and incapable of transmitting that energy to power its cities and factories. Unfortunately, it is years away from upgrading its infrastructure. As a result, coal remains and will remain its primary energy resource. In fact, China this past year was facing potential power outages at many of its power plants due to dwindling supplies of coal. As a result, China opened up many coal mines that were shut down for safety violations even though the existing safety issues were not remedied. If China is willing to risk the lives of its own citizens to avoid blackouts, what would China do if its actions threaten the citizens of other countries.

This creates a problem for Australia and the rest of the world. Australia's economy is largely dependent on this energy export; however, the environmental impact caused by coal is not restricted by a country's boundaries. The immediate benefit for Australia and China may result in a long term detriment for all of the world.

The immediate solution is for China to develop and incorporate more energy efficient solutions in its economy. This means developing energy efficient buildings and infrastructure. China continues to put up buildings that have inadequate insulation; as a result, these buildings require a significant amount of heat (energy) during the winter time. China should continue to develop alternative renewable energy resources and update its infrastructure as an intermediate and long term solution.

Unfortunately, the world's second largest economy will continue to use coal as its main energy resource and many countries will continue to supply that appetite for their own immediate economic benefit without considering the long term cost to their own and the world's economy.

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