Environmental Change, Vulnerability, and Governance [Working Papers]

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    Electrifying North Korea : bringing power to underserved marginal populations in the DPRK
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2014-04) Forster, Alex S.
    North Korea is an extremely isolated and impoverished nation. While its political elites are able to enjoy some degree of luxury in spite of UN sanctions, the lower classes suffer from shortages of food, electricity, healthcare, and other basic needs. Many of the lower class and fringe populations reside in rural areas with limited infrastructure, and rely on black markets to survive. Their situation could be dramatically improved if electricity could be provided to their communities to power heating, health clinics, manufacturing facilities, fertilizer plants, and water pumps for agricultural irrigation. Given the unpredictability of the North Korean regime and its known hostility toward the US, any action to benefit the marginal populations there must be done in such a way that the regime can get no benefit. By erecting small wind power arrays connected only to local microgrids, rural residents will benefit without the regime being able to divert the resources. Homes can be warmed in the harsh winters, farmland can be returned to productivity, economic output can be boosted, and health services can be dramatically improved. Resultant environmental benefits will include slowing deforestation and river siltation, which exacerbates floods, will be reduced. This proposal outlines the needs of the North Korean people, the justifications for helping them, and the specific steps that should be taken by both the public and private sectors to reduce the scale of the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
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    The shadow of urbanization : the periurban interface of five Indian cities in transition
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2014-01) Narain, Vishal ; Banerjee, Poulomi ; Anand, Pooja
    Periurban areas refer to areas at the periphery of cities. They provide the land and water resources needed for urban expansion, while receiving urban wastes. This paper describes the process of periurban expansion around five major Indian cities, namely, Patna, Guwahati, Chandigarh, Chennai and Ahmedabad. These cities have expanded under the current regime of neo-liberal policies, infrastructure development and real estate growth. As spaces in transition, periurban areas around these cities have absorbed much of the migrant population. However, the cities have grown beyond the carrying capacity; this has caused the ecological foot-print of the cities to spill over into the peripheries. While conventional approaches to urban planning and rural development create a dichotomy between rural and urban areas, the concept of periurban raises questions both about the sustainability and equity dimensions of urban expansion, also raising issues of the politics of urbanization.
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    A research strategy for the Pacific climate information system
    (Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, 2010-11) Finucane, Melissa L. ; Marra, John ; Weyman, James C.
    Based on a selective review of the outcomes of previous meetings, conferences, workshops, and papers highlighting climate variability and change research needs in the Pacific region, this paper presents a research strategy for increasing understanding of climate-society linkages in Pacific Island settings. The strategy provides a synopsis of emerging research goals and illustrative activities that users can rank according to their priorities. Grounded in the framework of the Pacific Climate Information System, the strategy is comprised of three key research elements: (1) research to enhance understanding of regional climate risks and consequences; (2) research to improve decision support and risk communication; and (3) research to improve climate adaptation capacity. We envision the strategy will contribute to enhanced understanding of scientific and societal knowledge of climate processes and their impacts and stakeholder capacity for building sustainable island communities for future generations.
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    In what format and under what timeframe would China take on climate commitments? : a roadmap to 2050
    (Honolulu: East-West Center, 2009-06) Zhang, ZhongXiang
    Given that China is already the world's largest carbon emitter and its emissions continue to rise rapidly in line with its industrialization and urbanization, there is no disagreement that China eventually needs to take on binding greenhouse gas emissions caps. However, the key challenges are when that would occur and what credible interim targets China would need to take on during this transition period. This paper takes these challenges by mapping out the roadmap for China's specific commitments towards 2050. Specifically, I suggest that China make credible quantified domestic commitments during the second commitment period, commit to voluntary no lose targets during the third commitment period, adopt binding carbon intensity targets during the fourth commitment period, and take on binding emissions caps starting the fifth commitment period and aimed for the global convergence of per capita emissions by 2050. These proposed commitments should be viewed as China's political commitments, not necessarily China's actual takings in the ongoing international climate change negotiations, in order to break the current political impasse between developed and developing countries. It is worthwhile China considering these political commitments either on its own or through a joint statement with U.S. and other major countries, provided that a number of conditions can be worked out. These commitments are principles, and still leave flexibility for China to work out details as international climate change negotiations move on. But in the meantime, they signal well ahead that China is seriously committed to addressing climate change issues, alleviate, if not completely remove, U.S. and other industrialized country's concerns about when China would get in, an indication that the whole world has long awaited from China, help U.S. to take on long-expected emissions commitments, and thus pave the way for reaching an international climate agreement at Copenhagen.
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    Interregional burden-sharing of greenhouse gas mitigation in the United States
    (Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, 2004-09) Rose, Adam ; Zhang, ZhongXiang
    Emissions trading is an attractive candidate for implementing greenhouse gas mitigation, because it can promote both efficiency and equity. This paper analyzes the interregional impacts of alternative allocations of carbon dioxide emission permits within the U.S. The analysis is performed with the aid of a nonlinear programming model for ten EPA Regions and for six alternative permit distribution formulas. The reason that various alternatives need to be considered is that there is no universal consensus on the best definition of equity. Advance knowledge of absolute and relative regional economic impacts provides policy-makers with a stronger basis for making the choice. The analysis yields several useful results. First, the simulations indicate that no matter how permits are allocated, this policy instrument can substantially reduce the cost of greenhouse gas mitigation for the U.S. in comparison to a system of fixed quotas for each of its regions. Interestingly, the welfare impacts of several of the allocation formulas differ only slightly despite the large differences in their philosophical underpinnings. Also, the results for some equity criteria differ greatly from their application in the international domain. For example, the Egalitarian (per capita) criterion results in the relatively greatest cost burden being incurred by one of the regions of the U.S. with the lowest per capita income.
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    The World Bank's Prototype Carbon Fund and China
    (Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2004) Zhang, ZhongXiang
    As the first global carbon fund, the World Bank's Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF) aims to catalyze the market for project-based greenhouse gas emission reductions while promoting sustainable development and offering a learning-by-doing opportunity to its stakeholders. Since the inception in 2000, the PCF has engaged in a dialogue with China to get it to sign up as a host country, because the World Bank and other international and bilateral donors expect great potential of the clean development mechanism (CDM) in China and feel the significant need for building CDM capacity in China to enable it to gain more insight into the CDM and increase its capacity to initiate and undertake CDM projects. This paper first discusses why China had hesitated to sign up as a host country of PCF projects until late 2003. Then the paper explains what has led China to endorse the PCF projects. The paper ends with discussions on the implications of the PCF's offering prices for the emerging global carbon market.
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    Why did the energy intensity fall in China's industrial sector in the 1990s? : the relative importance of structural change and intensity change
    (Honolulu, Hawaii : East-West Center, 2003) Zhang, ZhongXiang
    There have been a variety of studies investigating the relative importance of structural change and real intensity change to the change in China's energy consumption in the 1980s. However, no detailed analysis to date has been done to examine whether or not the increased energy efficiency trend in the 1980s still prevailed in the 1990s. This article has filled this gap by investigating the change in energy consumption in China's industrial sector in the 1990s, based on the data sets of value added and end-use energy consumption for the 29 industrial subsectors and using the newly proposed decomposition method of giving no residual. Our results clearly show that the overwhelming contributor to the decline in industrial energy use in the 1990s was the decline in real energy intensity, indicating that the trend of real energy intensity declines in the 1980s at the 2-digit level was still maintained in the 1990s. This conclusion still holds even if we lower the growth rate dramatically in line with the belief that the growth rate of China's GDP may be overestimated.
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    Towards an effective implementation of CDM projects in China
    (Honolulu: East-West Center, 2004) Zhang, ZhongXiang
    With the already huge and growing amount of greenhouse gas emissions and a great deal of low-cost abatement options available, China is widely expected as the world's number one host country of clean development mechanism (CDM) projects. But, making this potential a reality represents a significant challenge for China, because there has been a general lack of awareness by both the Chinese government and business communities, institutional structure, and implementation strategy. This has raised great concern about China's ability to compete internationally for CDM projects and exploit fully its CDM potential. This paper aims to address how CDM projects will be effectively implemented in China by examining the major CDM capacity building projects in China with bilateral and multilateral donors, the treatment of low-cost, non-priority CDM projects, and how a system for application, approval and implementation of CDM projects is to be set up in China and what roles the main institutional actors are going to play in the system. We conclude that these capacity building assistances, the establishment of streamlined and transparent CDM procedures and sound governance, and the lessons learned and experience gained from the implementation of the CDM project in Inner Mongolia and the two Prototype Carbon Fund (PCF) projects will make China well positioned to take advantage of CDM opportunities. Moreover, in order to further exploit its CDM potential, we recommend that China should well define its sustainable development objective of the CDM, disseminate CDM knowledge to local authorities and project developers as sectorally and geographically wide as possible, and get at least two domestic legal entities accredited as designated operational entities. By taking these ongoing capacity building projects and the recommended actions, and gaining experience from real practice, it is thus expected that a much greater percentage of carbon credits is likely to come from CDM projects in China over the next several years as the Kyoto Protocol enters into force.
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    Electric power grid interconnection in Northeast Asia
    (Honolulu: East-West Center, 2005) Yun, Won-Cheol ; Zhang, ZhongXiang
    Despite its regional closeness, energy cooperation in Northeast Asia has remained unexplored. However, this situation appears to be changing. The government of South Korea seems to be very enthusiastic for power grid interconnection between the Russian Far East and South Korea to overcome difficulties in finding new sites for building power facilities to meet its need for increased electricity supplies. This paper analyzes the feasibility of this electric power grid interconnection route. The issues addressed include electricity market structures; the prospects for electric power industry restructuring in the Russian Federation and South Korea; the political issues related to North Korea; the challenges for the governments involved and the obstacles anticipated in moving this project forward; project financing and the roles and concerns from multilateral and regional banks; and institutional framework for energy cooperation. While there are many technical issues that need to resolve, we think that the great challenge lies in the financing of this commercial project. Thus, the governments of the Russian Federation and South Korea involved in the project need to foster the development of their internal capital markets and to create confidence with international investors. To this end, on energy side, this involves defining a clear energy policy implemented by independent regulators, speeding up the already started but delayed reform process of restructuring electric power industry and markets, and establishing a fair and transparent dispute resolution mechanism in order to reduce non-commercial risks to a minimum. The paper argues that establishing a framework for energy cooperation in this region will contribute positively towards that end, although views differ regarding its specific form. Finally, given that North Korea has a crucial transit role to play and faces a very unstable political situation, it is concluded that moving the project forward needs to be contingent on a resolution of North Korea's nuclear crisis.
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    Commuters' exposure to particulate matter and carbon monoxide in Hanoi, Vietnam : a pilot study
    (Honolulu: East-West Center, 2007) Saksena, Sumeet
    Urban air pollution continues to be a major problem in Asian cities. Emissions from vehicles are the major contributor to deteriorating air quality in these cities. Most studies of air pollution in cities have concentrated on urban background air quality and its effects on people outside vehicles. Background levels are usually measured on roof-tops of buildings. However, scientific evidence suggests that road users of all kinds are exposed to higher levels of air pollution than the background data might suggest. Furthermore, the evidence indicates marked differences in the exposure levels of travelers by different modes. Often counter-intuitive results have been obtained. Research done in the U.S. and Europe is not easily adaptable to Asia, given the unique modes of transportation in Asia, such as two-wheelers and highly used bus systems. In Asian cities the use of diesel is much higher than in the west and the implications of this for actual human exposure to air pollution is not known. A pilot study was conducted to get preliminary estimates of personal exposures to particulate matter (PM10) and carbon monoxide (CO) while traveling on four major roads in Hanoi, Vietnam. Investigators carried lightweight portable real-time measurement devices while traveling on buses, cars, mobikes, and while walking, to study the effect of mode of transport, route, rush-hour, and air-conditioning on the exposure levels. The study is unique in terms of its special focus on users of two-wheelers and particulate matter. The survey has clearly provided evidence of the extremely high levels of pollution experienced by commuters, thereby justifying the need for a larger and more comprehensive assessment of human exposures and the factors that influence exposures.
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