China could outperform its carbon pledge

A coal-fired power plant in Baishan, in China's Jilin province, 6 October 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Frank Jotzo, ANU

China has submitted its formal pledge to the UN climate negotiations. China’s target is a 60–65 per cent reduction in the emissions intensity of its economy compared to 2005 levels by 2030, with carbon dioxide emissions peaking around 2030, and ‘best efforts’ made to peak earlier. Read more…

Japan deserves some praise on climate change

A floating megasolar power plant on a reservoir in Kasai, Hyogo Prefecture,. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Llewelyn Hughes, ANU

Japan has received some sharp criticism following the G7 meeting in June 2015 for its stance on climate change. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions of 26 per cent below 2013 emission levels by 2030, which is equivalent to 18 per cent less than 1990 emissions. If replicated globally, this would fall short of what is needed to keep the risk of catastrophic climate change to reasonable levels. Read more…

North Korea’s changing climate of environmental cooperation

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Author: Benjamin Habib, La Trobe University

The North Korean (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK) government would appear to have a compelling prima facie self-interest in participating in the global climate change mitigation and adaptation project centred on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Read more…

Lessons of Tambora ignored, 200 years on

A giant cloud of ash and steam rises from the Sangeang Api volcano in Indonesia. The volcanic arc to the north of Australia poses the greatest risk to humanity. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Anthony Reid, ANU

Today Australia will commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landing, which for many Australians symbolises one of the greatest man-made catastrophes. But there’s another anniversary this April that gives cause for reflection: the bicentenary of the eruption on 10 April 1815 of Tambora Mountain in southeastern Indonesia. Read more…

The mixed blessing of Asia’s growing middle class

Queuing up at a Surabaya supermarket. Some analysts define the middle class as being made up of people who are ‘no longer poor’. (Photo: Chris Stowers, Panos Pictures).

Author: Adrian C. Hayes, ANU

Everybody seems excited about the rise of a new, global middle class — especially in Asia. A report from Deutsche Bank states that ‘the burgeoning of Asia’s middle class makes it an important consumer market, an engine of economic growth in the region, and an important global political force’. Read more…

Creating architecture to sustain Asia’s spectacular progress

The Asian Development Bank's Manila Headquarters. In the early stages of Asian integration governments relied mainly on global institutions and on unilateral dismantling of border barriers. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Wendy Dobson, University of Toronto

Economic institutions, international and national, are key factors in Asian development strategies. Those economies which have exhausted the growth gained from the traditional mobilisation of capital and labour are now reforming the supply-side institutions that encourage new sources of growth from innovation and productivity. Read more…

Falling fossil fuel prices create a climate change opportunity

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Author: Andrew Elek, ANU

The recent and sharp fall in fossil fuel prices, thanks to new extractive techniques, will not last forever. It is high time to think about its threats and the opportunities.

In the short term, lower fossil fuel prices are terrible news for autocrats and kleptocrats whose survival depends on the resource rents created by higher prices. Read more…