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Carolyn Todd

(From All Members of the Sub-Saharan Africa Group)
Question 1
Bond's report says that improving the energy efficiency of buildings is the quickest and most cost-effective way of reducing GHGs.
Is the quickest way the most sustainable? Or is it better to make smaller changes at a slower pace that may have a better long-term impact? A building can become "carbon neutral" faster by purchasing offset credits. Is it better to buy credits and become carbon neutral earlier, or slowly progress without buying the credits to eventually become carbon neutral? You will not be able to receive the benefits of certifications and investments as quickly if you extend the process longer, but you will also likely provide a greater good in the long term if your building is not releasing any carbon into the atmosphere.

Question 2
Did Australia meet the 2020 goal of sourcing 20% of all energy from renewables?

Question 3
Generally is it more cost-efficient to tear down old buildings and rebuild a more sustainable one or just remodel old buildings with sustainable features?

Question 4
If sustainable practices are economically beneficial, why aren’t more Chinese politicians pushing for reform? 

Question 5
How will politicians promote sustainable legislature if they are not in office for a while? (in the article it said that they were promoted often)

Question 6
Do you think the four policy recommendations they make are feasible to be put into practice?
If the four recommendations are put in place, would it improve sustainable development in China? Some more so than others? Do y’all really think urban sustainable development can occur in these cities that are insanely populated to a productive enough extent?

Question 7
It seems like Australia has the opportunity to be leaders in the property industry department to address climate change and be sustainable… can they realistically get past the barriers to do so?
What makes Australia a place that can be leaders in this field rather than elsewhere?

Question 8
For the policy analysis in China, is it easier to amend policies to make them more effective, or implement new policies?

Nathan Unger

(From Latin America Group 3)

Sustainable Development in Australia:
Is the “Green Star” policy created by the Australian government effective? What other policy could be implemented that could be more effective?

The tenant, building owner, and government all have a role in driving demand for sustainable buildings. Which dynamics are most important for continuing sustainability demand in the future?
I’m curious what steps Australia has taken in sustainable development since the article was written in 2010.
Have any of the suggested strategies to encourage ESD buildings been implemented?
How is the rest of EAP affected by this issue?

China on creating sustainable development:
Is the focus of policy on specific cities' needs rather than national standards a blueprint that can be more widely popularized to promote sustainable development?
How would the special management system be able to enforce their regulations?
How will the extreme reliance these cities have on a singular resource affect the lives of people when regulations are made?
Why is there no mention of helping these economies evolve away from reliance on that singular resource?

Josh Fingerhut

South Asia Group

1. The paper about sustainable development in Australia shed light on the fact that many sustainable practices have low uptake due to a knowledge gap that exists. There is still hesitation towards environmentally sustainable design even though having energy efficient, green buildings is the quickest and most cost effective way to reduce GHG emissions. The major argument against ESD for buildings is that it costs more to build than a conventionally designed building. The article points out that the “Initial impact on construction costs (above comparable non-Green projects) is likely to be in the order of 3 – 5% for a 5 Star solution” (6). Bond makes it clear that there is a marginal cost premium for building. However, these greener buildings would cost less in the long-run, coupled with achieving higher rents and property values (“The selling prices of green buildings…are about 16% higher than other nearby buildings that do not have these green credentials” (7). We think that this is a major part of the knowledge gap. People need to evaluate a green building project holistically, and view it as an investment for the future, as opposed to a major current cost in terms of building. We have learned in class that this tends to be an issue associated with the narrative of sustainable development. Opposers of sustainable practices, such as ESD, harp on the idea that it is “too expensive,” but, as we have learned, sustainable development is an investment that would provide enormous returns in the future, both on a private and social level, coupled with positive externalities. Clearly, as we have seen, Australia has lagged behind its targets and there is a lack of progress, some of which likely has to do with what underlies some of this paper: one of the three I’s, ignorance. We think it will be important to continue educating about energy efficiency, but also to start implementing new, clear policies to achieve targets.
What do you think can be done and what are some examples of policies that could be implemented to really start seeing more movement towards energy efficiency and ESD in Australia? Are there other countries that could serve as a role model for Australia in terms of progress in achieving more sustainable buildings?

2. On page six of the Australia paper, which was written in 2010, attention is called to Australia’s “Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET)”. This target calls for 20% of Australia’s electricity generation to be fueled by renewable sources by 2020. However, as noted on Australia’s government website, coal still accounts for 75% of all electricity generation in the current day [https://www.ga.gov.au/scientific-topics/energy/overview#:~:text=Australia's%20primary%20energy%20consumption%20is,around%20(2%20per%20cent)]. What takeaways are to be made of this lack of progress on a clear and ambitious goal set by the government.

3. According to “The complexity for the resource-based cities in China on creating sustainable development”, one of the central challenges to China’s sustainable city development is the current system for creating policy, which is mostly uniform across the country. In a nation as large and diverse as China, this is problematic because even among resource-based cities, there is so much diversity in type of resources and in social attitudes. This leads to policies being implemented in cities that don’t really meet the needs of that specific city and its citizens, which slows efforts to implement more sustainable development in Chinese cities. How might Chinese officials better meet the needs of these cities without compromising the strength of the country’s sustainability initiatives? To what extent are these efforts harmed or helped by the fairly centralized system of government in China, especially compared to the generally less centralized system of government in the United States? Is one system generally more successful in achieving sustainability measures than the other?

4. In section 5.1.6, titled “Unclear Responsibility” the author addresses the hindrances to sustainable urban development created by the amount of different stakeholders invested in urban development and by the independent interests of the respective stakeholders. Chinese policy blunders have allowed certain parties to act in their own best interest at the expense of sustainable development. Private interest always seems to take the forefront to sustainable development when firms are given the opportunities to take advantage of poorly enacted environmental policy. What policy changes could the Chinese make to solidify the interests of the various stakeholders and move towards sustainable urban development in China?

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