CO2 Emissions in China Increasing Faster than Previously Believed

In intro to comparative, we have generally compared spatially across countries (or states). There is a lot of explanatory power, however, that can be achieved by modeling and comparing political phenomena at the sub-national level. Maximilian Auffhammer and Richard Carson–two economists–have done this by modeling the rise in Chinese CO2 emissions, using a panel data set at the provincial level in China. Their data set includes 30 provincial-level entities (or provinces) analyzed between 1985 and 2004. See a post I made on China’s pollution problems and economic growth here. I’ve reproduced a slide show from the post below. Here’s a snippet from their paper, which can be accessed here:

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The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has long been seen as the key future participant to an effective agreement limiting the adverse impacts of climate change. It is currently the number two emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2) and is about to overtake the United States, who has held this position since 1890, as the leading emitter. Further, the United States has long preconditioned its adherence to any international agreement such as the Kyoto Protocol on China’s formal concurrence that it would also undertake substantial CO2 reductions. Efforts to reach such an agreement failed in the late 1990’s during the Clinton administration and the Bush administration decided not to pursue policies that would allow it to sign the treaty and have it rati¯ed by the U.S. Senate.

This paper presents econometric forecasts that strongly suggest that the short to medium term path of Chinese CO2 emissions has increased by a factor of two or more since that time. Our best forecast has China’s CO2 emissions surpassing the United States before the year 2010 rather than 2020 as previously anticipated (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2000; Siddiqi, Streets, Wu and He, 1994; Panayotou, Sachs and Zwane, 2002). Our focus in this paper is on exploring alternative econometric specifications for forecasting China’s CO2 emissions using a rich new panel dataset from 1985 to 2004 at the provincial level. The prediction of a dramatic recent increase in the predicted path of China’s CO2 emissions over the short to medium term horizon is shown to be robust to a wide range of alternative specifications. We show, however, that it is possible to strongly reject both the standard engineering specifications that appear in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2000), and the recent Stern Report (2006) as well as the popular environmental Kuznets curve specification. All of the “best” models are dynamic in nature employing some type of lag structure, which is consistent with the nature of an installed durable capital stock.

Catholicism and the Social Dimension of Sin

Father James Martin takes the London Times to task for their framing of the story of the Catholic Church’s developing views on the nature of sin. (Click here for my blog post on the Times story.)

Father Martin writes in the America Magazine–the national Catholic weekly–that the Times’ story has confused the issue “unnecessarily.” He writes:

pd_hell_070706_ms.jpgMy guess is that some in the media bobbled this story for two reasons, neither of them malicious. First, a general unfamiliarity with the contemporary Catholic tradition of social sin, even though under Pope John Paul II something like “anti-Semitism” was often referred to in those terms. And, second, the fact that a headline that reads “Seven New Deadly Sins” is undeniably sexier than a headline saying, “Vatican Official Deepens Church’s Reflection on Longstanding Tradition of Social Sin.”

The Vatican’s intent seemed to be less about adding to the traditional “deadly” sins (lust, anger, sloth, pride, avarice, gluttony, envy) than reminding the world that sin has a social dimension, and that participation in institutions that themselves sin is an important point upon which believers needed to reflect.

In other words, if you work for a company that pollutes the environment, you have something more important to consider for Lent than whether or not to give up chocolate.

Globalization, the Catholic Church, and Classroom Pedagogy

A while back I had the opportunity to allow a job candidate to come in and use my intro to IR class to give a her candidate classroom lecture. Following the 40-minute lecture–after the candidate and the rest of the faculty had left the room–I asked my students to anonymously write down their impressions of the teaching style of the job candidate. One of the responses was particularly illuminated and the latest news about the Catholic Church’s efforts to reform the concept of sin reminded me of that student’s response. The student’s response was (and I’m paraphrasing here):

“I didn’t like that she went around the room and made everyone answer her introductory question. I pay $40,000 in tuition annually and I have the right to sit in the classroom and be bored and do nothing if that’s what I want to do.”

I felt sorry for this student, because s/he has forgotten a couple of important rules about life, let alone post-secondary education: first, you only get out of something what you put in. Second, and more important, the whole classroom experience is a social experience, and the outcome of the educational process is not only a function of what the student him/herself is doing, and what the instructor is doing, but what others in the classroom are doing as well.

Apropos of the preceding, here is news from the London Times online, which demonstrates the Catholic Church’s approach to the concept of sin:

seven_poster.jpg…[Bishop Gianfranco Girotti] said that priests must take account of “new sins which have appeared on the horizon of humanity as a corollary of the unstoppable process of globalisation”. Whereas sin in the past was thought of as being an invididual matter, it now had “social resonance”.

“You offend God not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbour’s wife, but also by ruining the environment, carrying out morally debatable scientific experiments, or allowing genetic manipulations which alter DNA or compromise embryos,” he said.

Bishop Girotti said that mortal sins also included taking or dealing in drugs, and social injustice which caused poverty or “the excessive accumulation of wealth by a few”.

He said that two mortal sins which continued to preoccupy the Vatican were abortion, which offended “the dignity and rights of women”, and paedophilia, which had even infected the clergy itself and so had exposed the “human and institutional fragility of the Church”.

Maybe it’s time for Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman to do a sequel to Seven. 🙂

Serbian Electorate Must Choose–Stomach or Heart?

narodna_skupstina_srbije.jpgThe Serbian coalition government, with moderate nationalist Vojislav Koštunica as Prime Minister–has collapsed following dissension within the multi-party governing coalition over the “loss of Kosovo.” Voters will go to the polls to elect a new government on May 11th having to make a stark choice in the polling booth: whether to side with the nationalists in their struggle to forestall Kosovar independence, or to vote in a more moderate pro-European government, thereby placating not only members of the European Union but calming the nerves of wary international investors, who have become the life-blood of the Serbian economic system. As reports reports:

…The coalition government collapsed at the weekend, with nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica blaming disunity over the conflicting goals of pursuing European Union membership versus defending Kosovo, the province which seceded last month with EU backing.

“Right now, around 1.0 billion euros worth of investments have been put on hold,” [Deputy Prime Minster Božidar] Djelić said. “There is a growing risk perception considering that some parties want to halt Serbia’s road to Europe. The elections will be a choice between Europe and investors are extremely careful.”

Heavily reliant on foreign investment for growth, Serbia is believed to need between 3.0 billion and 5.0 billion euros a year to ensure solid economic growth, single digit inflation and financing of its current account gap of 16 percent of GDP.

“In the absence of the required level of foreign investment, foreign creditors could also decide to put on hold lending to Serbian companies,” said Pavle Petrović of the FREN/CEVES thinktank said.

“The resulting crisis would lead to forcible reduction in external gaps through inflation, currency depreciation, a fall in output and wages. In that case, the central bank could soothe and postpone, but not eliminate the crisis,” he said.

Comparative Political Party and Electoral Systems

In a few weeks, we will conduct an in-class exercise that simulates a German national election.  This will give you a good idea of the specifics of the German political party and electoral systems, which you will then be able to compare to other systems around the world.  The German system is fairly complicated in that each citizen casts two votes, one for a member running in a single-member district, while the other is cast for a party via a proportional system.

Elections are, of course, the conditio sine qua non–and the minimal institutional requirement–of democratic political systems.   A great web site dedicated to keeping track of elections around the world is electionguide.org They do not as of yet have the results from the most recent national elections in Spain, (they will shortly) but they do have election results for countries around the world going back decades for some countries.  You should check them out.

The Christian Science Monitor  on the incumbent Spanish government’s re-election this past week:

oresults_p1.jpgAided by a near-record turnout, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and the Socialist Party won the Spanish national elections – suggesting further changes toward diversity in a young democracy whose older generations cut their teeth on the Franco dictatorship and the moral authority of the Roman Catholic church.

The Socialist victory suggests Mr. Zapatero’s party has broken out of the longtime secondary status it has labored under, despite winning the last election in 2004.

Now, say analysts, the Socialists’ more liberal appeal to young people, women, and immigrants – along with its contemporary style of campaigning – must be taken seriously by the conservative Popular Party (PP), which ran on an older message of Spanish traditionalism and antipathy toward the feisty Basque and Catalonia regions.

Do the cited paragraphs remind you of any other electorate?

First, Conflict Diamonds; now, Junta Jade?

I know; the j in junta is pronounced like an h. Regardless, The Christian Science Monitor asks “Who’s buying Burma’s gems?: Laura Bush’s campaign for a global boycott is being undone by China’s appetite for Olympic souvenirs made of Burmese jade.” The US First Lady argues that those of you purchasing precious gems from Burma are indirectly supporting the rule of the brutal military dictatorship in that southeast Asian country.

burma_jade.jpgIt’s the last hour of the last day of the gems auction in Rangoon, and tired buyers are fanning themselves with worn auction catalogs, and making their final bids.

Over the past five days, jade, rubies, sapphires, and close to $150 million have passed hands here, according to the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd., the consortium that dominates Burma’s gemstone trade and is owned by the defense ministry and a clutch of military officers.

Who’s buying? China, India, Singapore, and Thailand are scooping up Burma’s stones. US first lady Laura Bush’s efforts at a global boycott of Burma’s gems seem to have done little to reduce China’s appetite for Burmese jade to make trinkets and souvenirs to sell at the Summer Olympics.

At this recent auction, 281 foreigners attended, leaving behind much-needed foreign currency and generally turning the auction into a resounding success, according to the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper.

Mrs. Bush – and human rights campaigners – would not be pleased.

The first lady has taken on the military regime in Burma (Myanmar), urging jewelers not to buy gems from a country where the undemocratic rulers and their cronies amass fortunes selling off the country’s stones, as well as many of the county’s other natural resources – such as minerals, timber, gold, oil, and gas – but keep Burma’s citizens in abject poverty.

She has urged UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to act more forcibly on Burma and stood beside President Bush on several occasions recently as he announced the growing list of US sanctions on the country. And, on International Human Right’s Day this past December, Mrs. Bush added her voice to those seeking a global boycott on gems from Burma.

“Consumers throughout the world should consider the implications of their purchase of Burmese gems,” she said in a statement from the White House. “Every Burmese stone bought, cut, polished, and sold sustains an illegitimate, repressive regime.”

Earlier in the semester, we read an article [which he has made available to the general publilc on his web site] by Richard Snyder on the link between “lootable wealth” and political stability. In fact, the final section of his paper deals explicitly with the Burmese tropical timber trade and its role in funding rebel groups. What are the implications of Snyder’s argument for how we–as potential consumers of junta jade–should respond to Laura Bush’s plea? Of course the two phenomena are not exactly the same (Snyder is seeking to understand the link between “lootable wealth” political stability, while Laura Bush is arguing that “lootable wealth” supports dictatorial rule.) Here is the abstract to Snyder’s article:

This article proposes a political economy of extraction framework that explains political order and state collapse as alternative outcomes in the face of lootable wealth. Different types of institutions of extraction can be built around lootable resources – with divergent effects on political stability. If rulers are able to forge institutions of extraction that give them control over revenues generated by lootable resources, then these resources can contribute to political order by providing the income with which to govern. In contrast, the breakdown or absence of such institutions increases the risk of civil war by making it easier for rebels to organize. The framework is used to explain two puzzling cases that experienced sharply contrasting political trajectories in the face of lootable resources: Sierra Leone and Burma. A focus on institutions of extraction provides a stronger understanding of the wide range of political possibilities – from chaos, to dictatorship, to democracy – in resource-rich countries.

Oil, Islam, and Women

There is a new article [paywall] in the most recent issue of the American Political Science Review written by Michael L. Ross entitled “Oil, Women, and Islam.” Ross has written a lot about the nexus between resources and regime type, the so-called “resource curse” phenomenon. In this article, Ross argues that the well-known empirial link between lack of women’s rights and Islam washes away once controls related to oil production are incorporated into statistical models. (Note that the analysis is restricted to the Middle East.)

Here is the abstract and a couple of his charts:

Women have made less progress toward gender equality in the Middle East than in any other region. Many observers claim this is due to the region’s Islamic traditions. I suggest that oil, not Islam, is at fault; and that oil production also explains why women lag behind in many other countries. Oil production reduces the number of women in the labor force, which in turn reduces their political influence. As a result, oil-producing states are left with atypically strong patriarchal norms, laws, and political institutions. I support this argument with global data on oil production, female work patterns, and female political representation, and by comparing oil-rich Algeria to oil-poor Morocco and Tunisia. This argument has implications for the study of the Middle East, Islamic culture, and the resource curse.

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The United Nations and Peacekeeping in Congo

In PLSC250–intro to IR–this week we viewed a documentary made by the National Film Board of Canada, which addresses the UN’s peacekeeping role in Congo. After reading Chapter 7 of Mingst, you should now be aware that the UN in the world’s most important and powerful IGO, and the UN Security Council plays the most prominent global role in the area of international security. Here are a couple of screen shots from the film and the film’s description:

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With unprecedented access to the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping, The Peacekeepers provides an intimate and dramatic portrait of the struggle to save “a failed state.” The film follows the determined and often desperate manoeuvres to avert another Rwandan disaster, this time in the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC).
Focusing on the UN mission, the film cuts back and forth between the United Nations headquarters in New York and events on the ground in the DRC. We are with the peacekeepers in the ‘Crisis Room’ as they balance the risk of loss of life on the ground with the enormous sums of money required from uncertain donor countries. We are with UN troops as the northeast Congo erupts and the future of the DRC, if not all of central Africa, hangs in the balance.
In the background, but often impinging on peacekeeping decisions, are the painful memory of Rwanda, the worsening crisis in Iraq, global terrorism and American hegemony in world affairs. As Secretary General Kofi Annan tells the General Assembly at the conclusion of The Peacekeepers: “History is a harsh judge. The world will not forgive us if we do nothing.” Whether the world’s peacekeeper did enough remains to be seen.

Islam Democracy, and Authoritarianism and Paper Assignment

The topic for the next paper assignment in PLSC240  is “Democracy and Culture”.  You will be required to assess the democratic potential of various cultural orientations for democracy, using the Diamond and Morlino volume as a guide.  In Assessing the Quality of Democracy, various essential components of democracy are analyzed, including responsiveness, equality, freedom and accountability.  Your task will be to comparatively assess the quality of democracy in two countries, one of which is “Western” in its cultural orientation, the other of which is “non-Western.”  I’ll have more information for you on the specifics of the assignment when you get back from break on the 18th.

For now, I’ll remind you that on Thursday, those of you who did not leave early for spring break watched a Frontline documentary on Muslims and the democratic potential of Islam. You were shown the diversity in the manner in which Islam is practiced across five different countries–Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, and Turkey, and Nigeria. You were also able to begin to understand the varied roles and treatment of women across all of these predominantly Muslim countries.  This tied in well with the Steven Fish article [you have to be on campus to access the article] that you were assigned to read in advance of viewing the video.  What is Fish’s argument about the link between women in Islamic societies and democracy?  I’ve attached a preview of the documentary below. You can watch the whole documentary online, by clicking here.

United Nations Security Council Imposes more Sanctions on Iran

In intro to IR, we’ll analyze the role of IGOs, NGOs, and international law in international politics.  Arguably the most important IGO is the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)  Today, the UNSC voted (14-0) to impose tougher sanctions against Iran as a result of that country’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons.  From the New York Times:

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UNITED NATIONS — The Security Council on Monday adopted its third resolution imposing sanctions on Iran for its refusal to cease enriching uranium, an activity that the West suspects Iran may be using to create fuel for a nuclear weapon.

 The previous two measures gained the unanimous support of the 15-member panel, but in balloting on Monday Indonesia abstained, saying it “remained to be convinced of the efficacy of adopting additional sanctions at this juncture.” Fourteen countries voted in favor.

The resolution authorizes inspections of cargo to and from Iran that is suspected of carrying prohibited equipment, tightens the monitoring of Iranian financial institutions and extends travel bans and asset freezes against persons and companies involved in the nuclear program.

It adds 13 names to the existing list of 5 individuals and 12 companies subject to travel and asset restrictions. The new names include people with direct responsibility for building fast-spinning centrifuges that enrich uranium ore and a brigadier general engaged in “efforts to get around the sanctions” in the two earlier resolutions.

Notice two things: first, the use of “targeted sanctions.”  Second, the story byline reads “United Nations”, not New York.  I wonder if this is standard practice for stories originating from the United Nations headquarters in New York.  Does anyone know?