Could 2014 yield multilateral climate change solutions?
Upcoming meetings offer hope.
This year, China hosts the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group. Australia is president of the Group of 20 (G20).
During their tenures, China and Australia want to encourage economic growth, infrastructure investment, cross-border integration and market efficiency.
These could be achieved through a Pan-Asian Energy Infrastructure of cross-border power lines, natural gas pipelines and fiber optic cables.
These would stretch from China, Japan and South Korea through Southeast Asia to Australia.
Markets could then pick the low-cost, low-emission energy winners through transparent pricing.
A Pan-Asian Energy Infrastructure represents the logical end point of already-proposed Asian infrastructure projects.
These include the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline, Trans-ASEAN Electricity Grid, the East Asian Grid, Gobitec, Palapa Ring and others.
In becoming the world’s largest economic bloc in coming years, Asia must build out trillions of dollars of new infrastructure.
This could be funded through regional carbon markets supplemented by multilateral investment organizations and creation of oil and gas Joint Development Areas.
These also exist.
Carbon markets have been created in China and South Korea. Australia has carbon pricing.
Existing multilateral investment organizations include the Incheon-based Green Climate Fund, the Asian Development Bank-administered ASEAN Infrastructure Fund and China’s proposed Asian Infrastructure Bank.
Additional funding could come through auctioning energy exploration and production rights for Joint Development Areas in territorially-contentious areas of the South China Sea and East China Sea.
JDAs already exist in the South China Sea, and China and Vietnam have agreed to a kind of proto-JDA through a joint exploration agreement covering either side of the China-Vietnam Tonkin Gulf equidistance line.
Transit protocols for JDAs as well as cross-border energy supplies passing through a Pan-Asian Energy Infrastructure could be negotiated through organizations like the Energy Charter Treaty.
Security, meanwhile, could be provided through cooperative, multilateral patrols of US, Japanese, Chinese, Australian and ASEAN navies.
There’s alot to like from thinking big. This is what organizations like APEC and the G20 are supposed to do.
Progress made this year on the ideas above can be followed up by the Philippines’ as 2015’s APEC host, by ASEAN as part of its 2015 inauguration of the ASEAN Economic Community and by 2015 G20 president Turkey, a major emerging energy transit country in its own right.
These in turn could yield pathways for global action at the UN Conference on Climate Change (COP21) scheduled for December 2015 in Paris.
That meeting must finalize globally-binding, post-2020 strategies for reducing global carbon emissions.
In summary, the stars are now aligned.
This year, China and Australia can make history. They can do so by developing a long-term a roadmap for a prosperous, low-emission, wealth-creating 21st Century.