Category Archives: Climate Change

Global Concerns Over China’s “Manufacturing 2025” Initiative Highlighted In New EU Report

Originally published on CleanTechnica

A new Financial Times article reveals that the core technologies that China wants to lead the world in as part of its overarching Manufacturing 2025 initiative are coming under fire from other nations.

manufacturing 2025

China first laid out its Manufacturing 2025 initiative in May of 2015, which included objectives to internally develop nationwide competencies in 10 critical sectors, including New Energy Vehicles, Rail Transport Equipment, Automated Machine Tools and Robotics, and Power Equipment (which includes Solar and Wind Technologies).

This push is the next iteration in the country’s journey towards a better future as it takes a look at the past and maps out a better life for its 1.4 billion citizens. China has long been known to be a technology copycat, with Chinese tech giants Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent walking a tenuously similar path to those first mapped out by US tech titans Google, eBay, and Facebook. However, the new plan crafted in Beijing seeks to change not just this perception of the country, but also the reality underneath it.

The initiative maps out strategies for not only fostering “indigenous innovation” but also for forcing foreign companies to divulge details of critical technologies in exchange for access to Chinese markets. A newly published European study on China’s Manufacturing 2025 initiative highlights several examples of the way the initiative seeks to accomplish its objectives and how they are already causing global concerns:

“Under recently passed legislation in the new energy vehicle (NEV) industry, for example, European business is facing intense pressure to turn over advanced technology in exchange for near-term market access; in the field of industrial robotics, government subsidies are contributing to overcapacity in the low- and mid-tiers of China’s market; and in the information technology industry, European business is seeing market access constrict further. “

The report details how, in addition to these domestic-friendly policies having the potential to strip technologies from foreign companies coming into China, the Manufacturing 2025 initiative is creating a market that heavily favors domestic companies.

Whether these early concerns are just manifestations of the growing pains in the next chapter of Chinese manufacturing or are truly representative of the new position China is taking to protect itself and its citizens from global competition will have to play out over the next few years or decades. But one thing is certain — nations around the world are taking notice and are not receiving the news favorably.

The balance of increased innovation coming from China and market access as a result of Manufacturing 2025 is not perceived as healthy or sustainable, with the short-term impacts summed up in the European Chamber report in a single statement: “the world would benefit from additional innovative Chinese products and services, but not at the expense of inhibiting market forces through state-driven schemes. “

manufacturing 2025

Highly automated Tesla production line. Image Credit: Tesla

This push from China comes as the global manufacturing hub seeks to evolve away from the low-value, labor-driven economy it has become known as towards a tech-centric, automated future. The push aims to automate low-value manufacturing jobs though the implementation of autonomous robots. Compared to other nations, China has been very slow to adopt such technology.

Automation of these positions will continue to keep manufacturing costs low in the country in the face of rising wages. Though, the larger impact to employment numbers in a country of this size is a major concern.

Source: European Chamber ReportFinancial Times via Monica Araya

Leveraging Technology To Settle The Climate Change Debate

Originally posted on CleanTechnica

The Backstory

Climate change is a challenge unlike any other ever faced by humanity. It is the slow creep of change starting as a result of actions taken by humanity, building industries that helped hoist us out of thousands of years of toil into decades of technology-enabled prosperity.

But that prosperity exacted a toll that amassed into a series of inconvenient realities that have begun to confront humanity in ways we never could have imagined. Further complicating an already unenviable scenario, the fortunes extracted from the earth were redirected on humanity to intentionally obfuscate the truth, to intentionally introduce doubt to the equation.

These “Merchants of Doubt” had vast funds at their disposal and leveraged past experience to skillfully muddy the waters of truth, converting millions over to the opposition. These factually challenged fellows fight for the old way. They fight for antiquated methods and gladly embrace the blindfolds that keep them in the dark.

The Problem

The great iron of the climate change challenge is that the solutions humanity needs to leverage to reduce emissions at a rate necessary to avert catastrophic climate change already exist. We can generate power in renewable, sustainable ways that are more than sufficient to provide for our current needs and even well into the future.

Electric personal transport, mass transit, and bulk commerce solutions exist and are already being deployed around the globe. Adding insult to injury, many of these technologies are cost competitive with legacy power generation and transportation solutions today, without government subsidies. Change, it turns out, is not easy.

Distilling the problem down to the core issues and pairing them up with respective potential solutions has already been done for many cities, states, and even whole nations.

The missing technological development is not, in fact, another clean technology. We don’t need another 10% efficiency improvement in photovoltaic solar panels or another 200 miles of range in electric cars or even lower-cost lithium-ion batteries for cheaper grid-scale battery installations.

The Solution

What we need is to get clear on the facts. As President Obama recently stated in an interview with Bill Maher, because of this obfuscation, “people have difficulty now just sorting out what’s true and what’s not.” With the explosion of social media over the last 5–10 years, the way people get their news … and the facts that it should contain … has radically changed.

Now, one zinger headline on a clickbait article or picture with a catchy caption can provide a critical mental linkage that reinforces a social or political bias subconsciously. What’s scary is that, as the 2016 US election proved, the facts don’t even matter too much. You read that right — it doesn’t matter if the article, headline, or picture is true.

We latch onto them and share them out to our friends and the echo chamber effect continues. Obama triaged the struggle to communicate the facts, asking “How do we create a space where truth gets eyeballs?” He closed the segment with the summary problem statement: “Let’s agree on facts then argue about means after that.”

Ultimately, this single item — developing and leveraging technology to communicate the facts to the public in a way that is universally accepted — is the largest challenge facing climate change. The day we can communicate truths and facts to the public in a way that’s meaningful and believable is the day the masses will start working in earnest to make the required changes to avert catastrophic climate change.

We already have the technical solutions we need to solve the problem. But it’s all for naught if the people don’t take action.

All images by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

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