Climatic weapons

The global economy has long been predicted by the global crisis, so the Chinese coronavirus only launched the inevitable process. The most influential players – the USA, China and Europe – were looking for ways to remake the world for themselves, and the latter ultimately put on the environment. The good goal of making the world “greener” has become a way for the European Union to increase its influence, and the COVID-19 pandemic has provided unique opportunities for this. Climatic weapons – in the material “Tapes.ru”.

Turned green

The fight against global warming in 2019 has reached a new level. Sluggish and not too successful negotiations of world leaders on reducing emissions blew up a Swedish schoolgirl, eco-activist Greta Tunberg. Youth movements are a common occurrence in the West, but “school strikes for the climate” launched by Greta stand out from the general list, if only because they received unexpectedly well-coordinated support just among those against whom they are directed, namely, among the leaders of countries and world corporations.
Over the year, Greta talked with many influential people. Among them are former US President Barack Obama, Pope Francis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, all of them supported the girl. British Minister of Environmental Protection Michael Gove, after talking with her, even stated that he was ashamed. In September, a 16-year-old eco-activist was invited to speak at the UN Climate Summit, where she accused everyone present in the theft of her childhood in a very emotional way. So when Time magazine called Thunberg “the man of the year”, the editorial choice did not look surprising.

It is hard to believe that Gove and other politicians did not know anything about environmental problems before Greta. But influential people act quickly only in the case of specific threats or opportunities for their country or company. Otherwise, there are lengthy statements, memoranda without clear obligations and many years of negotiations.

The schoolgirl could not provide any new data – this is the business of scientists. Moreover, the situation in Europe with the environment is much better than in any other densely populated region of the world. Nevertheless, in 2019, the European bureaucracy began to work at an unusual rate. Apparently, this time the EU has found a clear and understandable benefit, and economic.

Already in November, just a couple of months after Greta’s speech, the EU finance ministers agreed to stop giving money for oil and gas projects. The decision was a sharp tightening of pan-European rhetoric regarding fossil fuels. Previously, only green parties promoted the environmental agenda. They have long been in politics, but did not come to the forefront and for many years they could only insist on the closure of coal-fired power plants.

In December, the new head of the European Commission (EC), Ursula von der Leyen, in fact, the first person in the European Union, called the fight against climate change her top priority. The so-called green strategy quickly appeared, where the solution of climate and environmental problems is called no more no less than a way to ensure the sustainability of the EU economy.

The initiative will require a trillion euro investment in environmental projects in the first ten years. Thanks to her, Europe wants to become the first region in the world where, by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced to zero. Part of the strategy was to help states to their companies and tighten import conditions from countries with harmful production.

Yes, nobody needs

The speed and coherence of the reaction is especially surprising if you recall the history of the issue. Global warming was first discussed in the 1960s. In itself, no one questions the rise in world temperature, the only question is how significant the anthropogenic factor is. There are two polar opinions. The first is that a person directly influences and is guilty of raising the global temperature. The second is that warming happened in history without humanity, so no one will be able to affect it even now. But the scientific community as a whole agrees – there is influence, and this influence is negative.

The result of many years of disputes was the signing of the Kyoto Protocol on December 11, 1997. The parties pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – these are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbon, perfluorocarbon and sulfur hexafluoride. Almost all UN countries and the European Union became parties to the agreement, only the United States refused to ratify the document. The rest of the countries were in no hurry either. The protocol entered into force on February 16, 2005, after more than seven years, and the first period of validity began in 2008.

Washington went against the whole world because it considered the agreement a threat to its economy. Indeed, developing countries, among them China and India, did not commit themselves at the first stage. The authors of the document wanted such states to continue economic growth, but the United States regarded these conditions as unreasonable advantages for competitors. In fact, the correctness of this position was recognized by other participants. The second period of the protocol, from 2012 to 2015, was already without Russia, Japan, New Zealand and other countries.

The failed document was replaced by the Paris Agreement, approved in 2015. The United States became one of its authors, which seemed to remove many problems and contradictions. But all the cards were mixed by the winning Donald Trump. After becoming president, he first withdrew the United States from the treaty, and for exactly the same reasons that the country did not participate in the Kyoto Protocol. Russia, which ratified it only in September last year, was in no hurry to work with the new agreement. China became an active supporter of the new treaty, but perhaps only because its obligations were limited to reducing the growth of harmful emissions.

Greta Factor

The main difference between the position of the Swedish activist is that she is demanding change right now, without any coordination, and not only from the authorities – from all people at once. Greta refused meat consumption and does not fly airplanes, because both of them leave too much carbon footprint (the aggregate emissions in the production of goods or the consumption of services). You can talk about gaps in the position of a schoolgirl, criticize her for her radicalism and blame her for PR, but there is a clear change of point of view.

Previously, the main harm of conventional disposable plastic cups and bags was seen in the fact that they decompose poorly and pollute the nature. The solution seemed to be more efficient waste management – separate collection, recycling, recycling or incineration in waste treatment plants. Greta reminded the whole world – their production already leaves behind a carbon footprint that cannot be fixed by recycling.

Thus, the Swedish eco-activist directly linked the increase in consumption of things and impressions (flights to other countries) with global warming.

The position turned out to be universal, on the one hand, and simple and understandable for everyone on the other. It is no accident that in New York on September 20 about 250 thousand people gathered for a rally with Greta, and on September 27, 500 thousand people came to Montreal – the largest meeting in the history of the city. Before the action, the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau talked with the schoolgirl.

Such an ideology, it seems, contradicts the current economic model, where GDP growth is considered the main success factor – an increase in the production of goods and services based on market value. However, there are two ways to increase this cost. The first is to produce more goods and services. The second is to produce less or the same, but more expensive. It seems that the second option has no chance, but it is Europe that has every opportunity to revolutionize consciousness and economics.

Minus world factory

The largest jackpot from increased consumption around the world has plucked China. Unprecedented economic growth in the country was ensured by exports, which are still the basis of wealth. In 1988, it reached $ 50.6 billion, and in 2018, $ 2.14 trillion. Including inflation – 33 times more. In Russia, exports in 2019 amounted to 424.6 billion, but two-thirds of it falls on fuel and energy. China has the vast majority of exports – products with high added value, that is, after processing.

The advantage of China was not only cheap labor, but also complete indifference to environmental issues. Chinese industries pollute air, water and soil; forests in the country are catastrophically shrinking and land is degrading. The symbol of these changes was the famous smog in Chinese cities. So, in 2015, exactly on those days when President Xi Jinping spoke at the UN World Conference on Climate Change, a smog level of 945 micrograms / cubic meter was recorded in Beijing. According to the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO), the maximum acceptable level is 25 micrograms / cubic meter.

We can say that people are literally suffocating. The Berkeley Earth organization later, using official data from the Chinese authorities, estimated that 183 people per hour died from problems with dirty air in 2012-2013, which is 17 percent of all deaths.

In 2011, protests began in the country. Even the Chinese, who were not inclined to disorder, gathered thousands of rallies against the construction of new and the development of existing industries. For example, against an ore processing plant in Shifan in Sichuan province; against the work of chemical plants in Dalian and Ningbo.

Since 2013, China has been implementing an environmental protection program, under which the most dirty enterprises are being closed and everyone else is being checked. Since 2015, metallurgical capacities have been reduced. One of the main points was the transfer of utilities and energy enterprises from coal to gas. In 2018, the country introduced a tax on environmental pollution and promised to reduce the consumption of steam coal by 5-10 percent in two years.

The measures only seem serious. China continues to top the list of countries on carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for more than a quarter of the total. At the same time, the USA following them significantly reduce emissions, even without any agreements and high-profile statements. Beijing, despite promises to switch to green energy, continues to build dirty enterprises. Until the end of the current five-year period, 121 coal-fired power plants will be commissioned in the country. Their total capacity, according to Global Energy Monitor, is 148 gigawatts, and this is more than all stations in Europe produce. In total, over the past 20 years, Chinese generation based on coal has grown from 200 to 972 gigawatts. As a result, the country currently burns about half of all coal on the planet. Accordingly, few people believe that China plans to actually reduce emissions.

The most obvious reason for this “slow pace” is the problem with the economy. The start of environmental concerns coincided exactly with the sharp slowdown in China’s GDP growth. In 2010, it amounted to 10.4 percent, in 2011 – 9.2 percent, and in 2012 – already 7.7 percent. In 2019, the economy barely overcame the six percent threshold and, as experts estimated, even without a coronavirus epidemic, it would hardly have reached the same level in 2020. In the first half of 2019, the volume of investments in alternative energy fell by 39 percent. Firstly, they were not very successful, and secondly, most of the effective technologies were borrowed from other countries, which was fraught with problems, especially against the backdrop of a trade war with the United States.

It can be stated that China simply does not have money to rebuild production in accordance with environmental requirements.

And sometimes it’s impossible even technically. So, in addition to consumer goods, China is a world leader in the production of concrete and cement. It accounts for half of the total world output. And cement production remains a serious source of carbon dioxide on the planet. China also produces more than half of the world’s pork and remains the main consumer of beef – both industries have a decent “carbon footprint”.

Great occasion

The Western economy is often perceived as the most successful, but this does not mean that it has no problems. They concern not average welfare, but specific people who are able to express their dissatisfaction in the elections. Trump in 2016 had enough of this discontent to lead the United States. Surviving their work because of migrants and the closure of enterprises, Americans believed an unexpected candidate. And after almost the main thing the eccentric businessman boasted on his Twitter was the growth in the number of jobs and the return of industries to the country.

In Europe, the problem of unemployment, even before the coronavirus epidemic, was even more acute. In France, she was approaching nine percent, with young people exceeding 20 percent. In Spain, Italy, Greece, more than a third of all citizens under 25 remain unemployed. Unemployment benefits, if you receive them at this age, do not solve the problem.

Against this background, the eurozone economy is almost not growing. Attempts to boost it – to accelerate inflation to the target of two percent and increase investment activity – did not work. The European Central Bank lowered its base rate to minus 0.5 percent, jeopardizing the entire banking system in Europe, but it is unable to change the main problem – there is nowhere to invest in Europe. Labor is too expensive and lives too well.

The obvious solution called for by the right-wing opposition is protectionism, which allows returning production and creating jobs. But then goods and services will become more expensive for the population – and consumers no longer like it. It is possible to find a solution that would suit everyone, only for individual industries. For example, for agriculture, which has received gigantic subsidies for many years and withstands competition through quotas.

To explain to citizens why they should buy European products, if they are more expensive than foreign products, it is not difficult to take care of health. But that’s why an EU resident must buy an expensive smartphone made in Europe, rather than a cheap Chinese one — much more complicated. But making ecology an issue removes the problem. Firstly, you can urge citizens to take care of the environment, and secondly, introduce a duty on products with a large carbon footprint.

In Europe, they began to prepare the financial infrastructure for such actions, including the development of financial reporting standards that will show how companies are fighting for the environment. Without waiting for this, the Norwegian State Pension Fund (GPFG), the largest sovereign fund in the world, began to get rid of the shares of companies whose fund analysts call the most harmful to the climate. These are primarily coal suppliers.

One of the richest corporations in the world, Microsoft, has committed to meet such requirements in advance. Over 30 years, its management promised to fully compensate for the negative impact on the environment since 1975 and to allocate a billion dollars to protect the climate. Further, Singapore’s largest purchaser of liquefied natural gas (LNG) Pavilion Energy is beginning to demand sellers report on the carbon footprint of fuel production. The companies are counting on the global implementation of their methodology.

Obviously, such an investment policy will hit the industry of China and other countries that pay less attention to the environment.

Either they will face a reduction in investments, or they will have to modify the manufacturing process, which costs money. A problem will also be a decrease in the consumption of goods in the EU, one of the main markets in the world (in 2017, Europe accounted for 31.6 percent of world imports).

It is difficult to say what scale the process will take, but Europe is more prepared for such victims than others. For example, in Berlin, completely refuse from disposable cups for coffee. The idea is not without meaning, because in the production and disposal of thousands of coffee cups with lids, according to Rethink Plastic, 63 kilograms of carbon dioxide are released. Earlier in all of Europe they decided to ban disposable plastic utensils and cutlery, straws and cotton buds. The law comes into force in 2021.

And in 2019, Europeans began to fly less. In Sweden and Germany, the number of air passengers declined and rail traffic increased. The German Deutsche Bahn even set a historical record for transportation.

Coronavirus to help

The loudest pandemic of the 21st century intervened in ecological restructuring. COVID-19 scared the whole world, primarily Europe and the United States, but at the same time gave the most convincing arguments for the changes. Experts and politicians agree that the crisis will be deeper than in 2008.

Solving the problem through quarantine exposed the gigantic problems of the global economy. And even if we ignore the argument against air travel, which Greta could recall, the coronavirus has spread around the world due to “irresponsible” travelers.

Под ударом оказалась система производственных цепочек, если в них задействованы несколько стран — эпидемия всего в одной стране нарушает работу во всех. Так происходит в России с автомобильными заводами, у которых заканчиваются иностранные комплектующие. От финансовых проблем компанию может защитить государство, но оно готово вкладывать средства лишь в собственные предприятия и поддерживать своих граждан. Как Германия и Франция, не исключающие национализации самых важных для страны производств. Получить такую помощь транснациональной компании гораздо сложнее.

Главный экономист и директор по инвестициям Saxo Bank Стин Якобсен не только считает кризис самым масштабным, что он видел за 30 лет работы, но и называет конкретного виновника. «Глобализация — это основной источник неприятностей (быстрого распространения вируса), об этом говорит масштаб путешествий по миру», — утверждает он. С ним согласен заведующий сектором международных военно-политических и военно-экономических проблем ВШЭ Василий Кашин: «Государства будут создавать замкнутые цепочки производства жизненно важных товаров на своих территориях, невзирая на сомнительную экономическую эффективность такого шага».
Многие страны давно, если имеют на то ресурс, борются с транснациональными корпорациями, так как те получают слишком много влияния. Евросоюз судится с крупнейшими американскими технологическими компаниями по поводу так называемого налога на GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, иногда к ним добавляют Microsoft). Таксисты добиваются запрета на агрегатор такси Uber. США запретили Facebook запускать свою криптовалюту Libra, увидев в ней угрозу своей финансовой системе. В Китае иностранные автопроизводители обязаны были отдать не менее 50 процентов доли в своем предприятии местным компаниям. Первым исключением стала Tesla. На фоне снижения инвестиций Пекин разрешил компании построить в Шанхае полностью свой завод.

Ситуация с коронавирусом дает государствам несомненный козырь. В случае более серьезных проблем — ведь никто не знает, насколько смертельной будет следующая угроза — производство основных товаров потребления должно быть под рукой с возможностью работы в целях государственной важности. Иначе придется, как происходит в США, спешно закупать необходимые аппараты искусственной вентиляции легких (ИВЛ) в Китае, с которым вроде бы не завершена торговая война. Социальная защита работников производств — тоже ответственность государства, а значит, его дополнительные права.

В этом смысле европейская экономика попала в идеальный шторм, но в хорошем смысле. У нее есть цель, есть средства для перемен и есть лояльность граждан, готовых потерпеть и понимающих — зачем. Есть даже наглядная иллюстрация, почему нужно меньше потреблять. В Китае за месяц борьбы с эпидемией выбросы вредных веществ сократились на 25 процентов.

Вот и Урсула фон дер Ляйен уже говорит о необходимости нового «плана Маршалла», подразумевая под этим радикальные изменения в экономике ЕС. Решать проблемы экологии и коронавируса совместно попросили и крупнейшие компании главной экономики Европы — Германии. В конце апреля Еврокомиссия представила план объемом два триллиона евро по выходу из кризиса. Позднее Франция и Германия предложили создать фонд восстановления экономики объемом 500 миллиардов евро. Очевидно, что столь крупные средства будут тратить с учетом ранее выбранной стратегии.

Вероятно, именно экономическая составляющая борьбы против глобального потепления «вразумила» Трампа. Президент США публично смеялся над экологической повесткой, но в январе 2020 года заявил, что не считает изменение климата мистификацией. Не исключено, что политика заинтересовала возможность заставить американские компании вернуть в страну свои производства. К тому же запрет на инвестиции в «грязные» предприятия Китая придется одобрить даже его непримиримым противникам.

Но и сам бизнес начинает понимать, куда дует ветер. Так, 13 мая руководители 330 американских компаний с общей капитализацией 11,5 триллионов долларов обратились в Конгресс с требованием связать восстановление экономики с использованием возобновляемых и чистых источников энергии.

Выбора нет

На первый взгляд, такая европейская парадигма России повредит. Недосчитается инвестиций и спроса нефтегазовая отрасль, а это прямой удар по бюджету и курсу рубля. Проблемы возникнут у экспорта российского угля. Сократится спрос на товары российских вредных производств, а их достаточно — российские города регулярно занимают места в топе самых грязных населенных пунктов мира.

Глава «Роснано» Анатолий Чубайс уверен, что если Россия не пойдет по пути «реального сокращения объема выбросов, то попадет в тяжелейшее международное противостояние».

Анатолий Чубайс, глава «Роснано»

Если к этому не отнестись всерьез, мы получим тяжелейший удар по экспорту, в том числе по экспорту углеводородов, что для нас сверхзначимая вещь

Его опасения не лишены оснований. Минэкономразвития полагает, что к 2035 году углеродный след российской электроэнергетики в 3,5 раза превысит средний по миру. Министр энергетики Александр Новак сразу после ограничительных мер и санкций называет одной из опасностей спроса на российские энергоресурсы тренд на продвижение во всем мире «зеленой повестки».

Но есть в такой опасности и своя возможность. Россия как экономика слишком мала, чтобы в одиночку заставить мир играть по своим правилам, поэтому ей придется принимать какую-то из моделей развития. Представляется, что именно европейская идея дает стране больше всего шансов на успешное развитие.

В мире есть три центра силы — США (ВВП — 21,4 триллиона долларов), Евросоюз (18,3 триллиона, без Великобритании — 15,6 триллиона) и Китай (14,1 триллиона), остальные заметно отстали. Каждый из этой тройки старается использовать свои преимущества. У США это военное превосходство и доллар, чье особое положение среди валют дает ключ к регулированию мировой экономики — Белый дом может в одиночку вводить санкции, которые вынуждены исполнять все.

Китай как «мировая фабрика» не против подмять под себя все производство планеты. Он стал лидером по выдаче кредитов странам третьего мира, в обмен на которые «скупает» их экономику. Займы выдаются на проекты, которые реализуются китайскими же компаниями, то есть деньги возвращаются, но страны остаются еще должны. Вернуть заимствования они не в силах, поэтому принимают китайские условия. Схема придумана не Пекином — ранее тем же самым занимались западные страны в Латинской Америке. Результатом, как в прошлые времена, станет истощение ресурсов зависимых государств.

Новые территории дают китайцам доступ к полезным ископаемым, например, в Казахстане и Туркменистане, и возможность еще удешевить производство. При необходимости — выносить туда вредные предприятия и вывозить отходы. Последний метод придуман тоже не ими — заваливать бедные и зависимые страны начала Европа. Так, 77 процентов отходов на гигантской свалке в нигерийском Лагосе — европейского происхождения, а еще 15 процентов — из Китая и США. Между тем Китай и сам какое-то время принимал пластик и пластиковый лом из Европы, но в 2017 году отказался это делать. Россия тоже выступает полигоном для европейского мусора, только не бытового, а радиоактивного. В страну завезли до миллиона тонн ядерных отходов, и что с ними делать — неизвестно.

Своя рубашка

Легко заметить, что в американской идее Россия может быть только подчиненной (и желательно без ядерного оружия), а в китайской — сырьевым придатком. Между тем экологическая концепция Европы не ставит никаких ограничений.

Борьба за экологию во всем становится для следующих десятилетий тем же, чем стало освоение космоса для второй половины XX века.

В США с мнением о влиянии человека на глобальное потепление согласны 86 процентов подростков, а 24 процента участвовали в акциях протеста. И надо понимать, что они — будущее первой экономики мира. Хотя деньги такой энтузиазм приносит уже сейчас — можно посмотреть на капитализацию Tesla, самого дорогого в мире автопроизводителя, который выпускает гораздо меньше машин, чем лидеры отрасли. Даже крупнейший за десятилетия экономический кризис не смог обрушить акции компании. Такие настроения будут нарастать, ведь экологические проблемы глобальны, работать с ними все равно придется.

Импортозамещение, которым, пусть и во многом вынуждено, много лет занимается Россия, лежит вполне в русле экологической повестки. С точки зрения энергетики с минимальным углеродным следом Россия имеет все шансы стать мировым лидером. Гигантские запасы природного газа позволяют при желании полностью перейти на значительно более экологичное газомоторное топливо и заменить каменный уголь в отоплении и ряде производств. В стране развита атомная отрасль и гидроэнергетика. Зеленые считают вредными и то, и другое, но к выбросу парниковых газов они отношения не имеют.

По оценкам Международного агентства по возобновляемой энергетике IRENA, технический потенциал ветроэнергетики в стране составляет 80 тысяч тераватт-часов в год, хотя большая его часть находится не в самых населенных районах. Такого уровня нет ни у одного государства в мире. В конце концов, россияне уже сейчас летают самолетами гораздо реже, чем в Европе, предпочитая железные дороги, и все чаще задумываются об экологии.

Другими словами, перемены для России окажутся менее радикальными, чем для большинства стран мира. Вопрос финансовых затрат тоже неоднозначен. Только из-за грязного воздуха, по оценкам Организации экономического сотрудничества и развития (ОЭСР), Россия в 2015 году потеряла 447,6 миллиарда долларов, или 12,5 процента ВВП. А есть и загрязнение воды, что приводит к увеличению заболеваний, и лесные пожары, возникающие из-за черных лесорубов. Есть свалки вокруг городов, отравляющие атмосферу. Это проблемы все равно придется решать, и чем позже начать — тем больше придется платить. Россия может не самыми большими усилиями оказаться в авангарде нового мирового порядка. Если только не упустит момент и не попытается получить сиюминутную выгоду, что неизбежно приведет к дальнейшему отставанию.

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source: rambler

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