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向燃煤说再见,没那么容易

更新时间:2016-9-1 11:05:04 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Challenge of Cutting Coal Dependence
向燃煤说再见,没那么容易

It won’t be easy to get rid of coal.

要摆脱煤炭没有那么容易。

Worried the nation might miss its 2020 target to drastically cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the German government proposed a steep levy last year on the most heavily polluting generators. The tax was intended to deliver a decisive blow against lignite or brown coal, the dirtiest fuel around and Germany’s main source of electricity.

因为担心德国达不到2020年大幅削减二氧化碳排放的目标,该国政府曾在去年提议对污染最严重的发电厂征收高额税费。此举意在给褐煤决定性的一击。褐煤是这里最不清洁的燃料,也是德国电力的主要来源。

Germany views itself as a leader in the push against climate change. It is probably the world’s most enthusiastic investor in renewable energy, mainly wind and sun. But even the powerful Chancellor Angela Merkel couldn’t quite pull it off.

德国自认为是推动气候变化方面的领导者。它可能是世界上最热心于投资可再生能源的国家,主要发展风能和太阳能。但就连强悍的德国总理安格拉·默克尔(Angela Merkel)也没能完全实现上述提议。

Facing blowback from labor unions and governments in coal country, Berlin backed off, replacing the levy with a subsidy of 1.6 billion euros to gradually mothball eight coal-fired plants and shut them down permanently by 2023.

面对来自工会和煤炭产区地方政府的阻力,柏林退缩了。它放弃征收那项税费,代之以16亿欧元(约合120亿人民币)的补贴,帮助逐渐淘汰八座燃煤发电厂,并在2023年结束前将它们永久关闭。

Environmentalists hated it. “Instead of being fined for polluting by the proposed new climate levy, utilities will instead get paid for keeping their oldest and most inefficient lignite plants on standby,” noted a report for Oxfam on Germany’s energy policies by the environmental nonprofit E3G. It “amounts to a golden handshake for utilities at the expense of taxpayers and consumers.”

环境保护主义者非常不喜欢这种结果。“这些造成污染的事业公司非但不会被处以罚金,缴纳新提议的气候税费,反倒可以因为保留自己那些极其老旧和低效的褐煤电站,并暂停其运转而得到补贴,”非营利环保组织E3G就德国能源政策为乐施会(Oxfam)制作的一份报告指出。这“相当于用纳税人和消费者的钱给这些事业单位一大笔退职金”。

And that wasn’t all. The chancellery also rejected a push by Barbara Hendricks, the environment minister, to establish a road map to the total phaseout of coal, hoping to postpone timing decisions until after national elections next year.

不仅如此,总理办公室还否决了环境部长芭芭拉·亨德里克斯(Barbara Hendricks)确立彻底废除煤炭燃料的线路图的努力,希望将决策时间推迟到明年的大选之后。

Berlin’s hesitance may seem like little more than a snag in Germany’s vaunted “Energiewende.” At least the coal generators are scheduled to shut down eventually.

柏林的犹豫看起来似乎不过是德国大肆宣扬的“能源转型”(Energiewende)遇到的一个障碍。至少依计划这些燃煤发电厂最终都会被关闭。

But the resistance in the greenest of green countries underscores a more substantial challenge to the international effort to drastically reduce fossil fuels in the world’s energy supply: workers and retirees, local economies and communities still depend on the fuels the rest of us hope to let go of to preserve the planet for our children and our children’s children.

但这个堪称“绿中最绿”的国家所遭遇的阻力,突显出在全球能源供应中大幅减少化石燃料的国际努力面临一个更实质性的挑战:工人和退休人员、仍然依赖这些燃料的地方经济和社区,尽管我们其他人希望放弃它们,以便保护这个星球,让我们的孩子及其后代拥有更好的环境。

I’m old enough to remember President Jimmy Carter going on TV on April 18, 1977, declaring a “moral equivalent of war” against dependence on foreign oil, and telling Americans that “we need to shift to plentiful coal.” It seems unfair to simply tell the communities that worked on this shift: “We’re sorry, but it didn’t work out.”

我年龄够大,还能记得吉米·卡特1977年4月18日在电视上宣布向美国对外国石油的依赖发起“道义战争”的情形,他告诉美国人“我们需要转向储量丰富的煤炭”。单单告诉这些社群,“对不起,这场战争出了大问题”,似乎不太公平。

But making those who will suffer from this transformation whole is not just a matter of fairness. A successful transition to a low-carbon future requires their support. And yet they remain pretty much an afterthought in the public debate over climate change.

但对那些会因这种转变受损的人做出补偿,不只是一个公平问题。成功地迈向低碳的未来需要他们的支持。而在针对气候变化的公开辩论中,他们基本上始终是事后才被想起的群体。

Employment in U.S. coal mines has been falling for decades, pushed more by market forces than environmental policy. The steep downturn of late is mainly because of a glut in the global steel market and extra-cheap natural gas. President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan has not yet kicked in, placed on ice by the Supreme Court. Still, Hillary Clinton singled out coal country for government assistance, offering $30 billion over 10 years.

几十年来,美国煤矿的雇佣人数一直在下降,这更多是由市场力量推动,而非环境政策。近来这一数字大幅降低,主要是因为全球钢铁市场供过于求,加上天然气价格格外低廉。美国总统贝拉克·奥巴马还没有开始实施他的清洁电力计划(Clean Power Plan),因为最高法院做出裁决,要求暂停执行。此外,希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)单独将煤炭区列出来,提议在10年里为它们提供300亿美元的政府援助。

Finally, even the most renewable-friendly nations have not figured out how to draw more than a modest share of their power from wind and sun — which can’t be counted on to deliver energy continuously. At the same time, coal remains the easiest and often cheapest source of base power. So from Germany to India, strategies to increase the share of renewable energy in the power mix have relied on a coal base.

最终,就连最支持可再生能源的国家也搞不清楚,如何才能将本国风能与太阳能极低的总发电量占比有所提高。目前还不能指望这两种能源可以实现持续稳定的供应。与此同时,煤炭依然是最容易获得、往往也是最便宜的电力来源。所以不管是在德国还是印度,其增加可再生能源发电比例的策略都要以煤炭电力为基础。

“The way many jurisdictions are going is to follow the German model,” said Mark C. Thurber, associate director for research at Stanford University’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development. “It seems totally nuts, but it follows from the fact that renewables have a lot of support, and other than that, people do what they know, which is coal.”

“很多国家的发展方向就是采用德国的模式,”斯坦福大学能源与可持续发展项目(Stanford University’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development)研究部副主任马克·C·瑟伯(Mark C. Thurber)说。“这看似完全疯了,但它出自这样一个事实:很多人对可再生能源表示支持,但除此之外,人们还是会使用自己了解的东西,那就是煤。”

India draws 62 percent of its power from coal and is already the second-largest consumer after China and ahead of the United States. Still, coal consumption is growing about 7 percent a year to power the country’s economic catch-up.

印度62%的电力来自煤,它已经是排在中国之后、美国之前的世界第二大燃煤国。但印度的燃煤量依然在以每年约7%的比率增长,这样才能为该国在经济上的奋起直追提供动力。

“There is not much research into backing out coal with something else,” Thurber said. “They are just throwing renewables at a coal base.” While environmentalists welcomed India’s announcement last year that it would increase investment in solar energy, they were less pleased by its plans to triple coal production from 2013 to 2020.

“目前没有太多有关用别的能源取代煤炭的研究,”瑟伯说。“他们只是在煤炭资源基础上增加可再生能源。”尽管环保人士对印度去年宣布的一项举措表示欢迎,即它将增加在太阳能方面的投资,但对于印度提出的在2013年至2020年间将煤炭产量增加两倍的计划,他们就没那么满意了。

This means the world’s climate change strategy cannot rely on the quick replacement of the dirtiest fuel around. Increasing investment in technologies like carbon capture and storage may prove indispensable to meet the limits on carbon dioxide emissions needed to prevent a catastrophic warming over coming decades.

这意味着这个世界应对气候变化的策略,不能依靠快速替换目前污染最严重的燃料实现。对于达到在接下来的几十年里阻止灾难性的气候变暖状况发生所需的碳排放限制,增加在碳捕集与存储等技术上的投资,或许会被证明是不可或缺的。

Even after all this is dealt with and the obstacles are overcome, the human dimension will remain.

即便所有这些问题得到解决,障碍被跨越,依然会有人的问题。

It will require a lot of attention, and more than a few billion dollars. Simply assuming that displaced coal miners will make a smooth transition into jobs in newfangled energy industries, which have a different geographical footprint and require a different skill set, is a cop-out.

它将需要很多关注,不只是投入几十亿美元那么简单。仅仅想到让被取代的煤矿工人顺利实现转型,在新能源行业里找到工作,那简直就是逃避问题,因为能源分布情况不同,也需要不一样的技能。

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