This past summer, I attended a coal
plant protest in my hometown of
Somerset, Massachusetts, which
I covered for RenewableEnergyWorld.com. The 1,500-MW Brayton
Point facility is an infamous landmark in the community, and the subject of countless pollution headlines.
Three months following the protest,
plant owner Energy Capital Partners
announced that it would retire the
plant in 2017, citing the need to invest
“significant capital to meet environ-
mental regulations and to operate
and maintain an aging plant.”
This type of story is becoming
increasingly familiar as coal plants
shut down throughout the United
States due to the high costs associ-
ated with meeting emissions targets.
And while the Brayton Point clo-
sure may be a huge victory for some
(with good reason), it is a miniscule
improvement for global emissions.
Realizing the magnitude of this
issue, the world’s two largest polluters, China and the U.S., have decided
to address the problem on a global
scale by forming a new global climate change treaty in 2015.
Pollution in China has reached
toxic levels due to its rapidly increas-
ing energy demand, which is need-
ed in order to keep up with the
country’s rapid industrializa-
tion. And the U.S. is facing ever-
increasing calls for emission
cuts from environmental and
If you’re familiar with the
renewables industry, this may seem
like an odd couple. The U.S. and
China have been embroiled in a
solar energy trade dispute for several years now. Though it was thought
to have been settled, it was recently
reignited with U.S. companies claiming Chinese manufacturers are still
illegally dumping low-priced panels
into the U.S. market.
Despite this issue, the two nations
have decided to join forces. “The
United States and China are absolutely essential…No agreement will
move forward without their participation,” explained Christina Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations climate convention to the
New York Times.
China recently overtook the U.S.
as the largest emitter of greenhouse
gases and neither country wants to
be blamed for polluting the earth
and doing nothing about it. Though
there are still many issues that must
be ironed out before 2015 — such
as who will pay for climate change-related damages — this apparent
partnership is a step in the right
direction. A strict global climate policy has the potential to open many,
many megawatts of opportunity
for renewable energy development
worldwide. I hope it works. à
Imagine All the People:
Are We Closer to a Global
Climate Change Treaty?