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Bad news for the climate…

December 29, 2009

East Siberian - Pacific Ocean oil Pipeline

So I just read in the papers that “Russia turns on the tap for oil to Asia” and the first thing I thought of was “when will it ever stop?”.

I suppose it’s the classic “when one door closes, another opens” scenario when as oil is seemingly running out in the Middle East, Russia has strategically set out to “conquer Asia markets even as it diverts flow away from Europe”.

The Straits Times (Tuesday, December 29th 2009 A8) reported that the East Siberia pipeline, stretching from Taishet to Kozmino terminal, will be able to carry up to 1.6 million barrels of oil a day upon completion in 2012. It aims to “capitalise on the needs of energy-hungry Asian countries.” The recent completion of a 2,750km section of the pipeline (known as ESPO) cost US$12 billion (S$17 billion). The second section of the pipeline from Skovorodino to Kozmino terminal is to be completed at an estimated cost of another US$10 billion.

And get this. The pipelines were completed so efficiently because China provided the US$25 billion in loans to Russian state energy companies in exchange for oil supplies for the next 20 years!!!

So what’s with China embracing the climate deal when such news of their oil deal breaks just days after the Copenhagen Accord was signed? Seriously.

Other questions remain such as: Is it fair to generalise Asia as energy-hungry when most of the demand comes from China? What about the poor countries who can’t afford to build heavy duty pipelines for oil, and are increasingly feeling the pressures of climate change in their daily lives? What about the economic imperative of China behind the need for the pipelines? What are the socio-economic costs of building the oil pipes? Have people been displaced or disenfranchised? Why wasn’t Russia present at COP15 and why didn’t anyone think of asking them to sign the Copenhagen Accord to commit to reducing emissions? Sure China is going to bear the brunt of the responsibility for using the oil but Russia’s external carbon footprint will be far larger than China’s I’m sure. Similar case for Australia, whose coal exports are burnt and used in China, contributing to China’s carbon output.

So many questions, none of which are addressed in the papers. I think it’s wrong to accuse before we get the facts right so, I hope there will be follow ups about this issue. Also, we must not fail to see this case in isolation but in a broader context of the global oil industry which includes the demands and supplies around the world. Perhaps the only solution is to wean countries like India and China off fossil fuels by making renewable energy technologies accessible and more importantly, affordable and available at local and community levels.

Also read this article:

New Russia ESPO blend crude could change rules of the oil game in Asia

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Alex permalink
    December 29, 2009 1:43 pm

    China is producing the goods that you want at a very cheap price. China is investing heavily in third world countries so that they can be lifted out of poverty and buy their cheap goods. What is the western world doing to lift people out of poverty? No one does anything for free.

  2. pei ling permalink
    December 29, 2009 4:22 pm

    just to put things in perspective, China invested more than $220bil in green measures eg. railway, renewables like solar and wind, advanced battery technology etc in their 2009 stimulus package…India plans to install 20 GW of solar power by 2020 – more than the world’s installed capacity in 2008. Both countries are the top investors in renewables, beating all other industrial countries including the U.S.

    And China’s pledge to cut carbon intensity by 40% by 2020 below 2005 levels, is higher than the United States’ pledge to cut emissions by 17% by 2020 below 2005 levels once you convert U.S.’s to carbon intensity…

    Yes China is energy hungry (they’ve more than 1bil people to feed and millions more to pull out of hardcore poverty), they’ll continue to secure oil supply and build two coal power stations per week as long as the renewables cannot satisfied their demand…but to be fair, I would say China is at least trying their best to balance their act…it’s not easy

  3. December 29, 2009 5:47 pm

    Great comments guys, I personally feel that China is an easy target, a country most Western countries love to hate.

    Have a further read on the political blame game going on after COP15 here


  4. Mellow permalink*
    December 29, 2009 6:09 pm

    Thanks Peiling for the insight into China’s efforts to offset their carbon emissions and in trying to green their economy. As I mentioned in the post, there are a lot of questions that go unanswered.. or unasked in the first place. As youths, need to begin or continue to ask such critical questions and work together in getting these questions to governments and to those in power so that change can happen.

    And Ping, China is an easy target no doubt about it. It’s easy to generalise Asia as energy-hungry too as The Straits Times reported. So is the U.S. and Europe but maybe everyone’s just tired of saying it cause they’re not going to do anything about it anyway so they point the finger at Asia.

  5. suuuppper permalink
    February 28, 2010 12:28 am

    china is the most croweded place in thee world. and its gross like y thee hell would they put lead into there toys

  6. suuuppper permalink
    February 28, 2010 12:28 am

    its also ugly UGLY ugly

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