Monday, May 07, 2012

Returning students face challenging job markets back in China

The job prospects in China for returning overseas Chinese (ROC) are not as promising as before. For some, it might take half a year to secure a good job, with wages far below their expectations.

If you are heading back to work in China soon, you might be shocked to learn that more than 40 percent of new ROCs earn less than 4,000 yuan (£400) per month, and only 15 percent reach their expected salary of over 100,000 yuan (£10,000) a year.

These disappointing figures were quoted from a recent survey, "The 2011 employment situation of returned overseas Chinese", which was released by the Beijing-based EIC Group, China's largest and most experienced education agency.

It is not surprising that the job market in China for ROCs is becoming fiercely competitive. In 2011 there were as many as 330,000 Chinese studying abroad and the number has risen by some 20 percent on a yearly basis since 2008.  

Commenting on the highly competitive job market back at home, recruitment agencies have said that degrees obtained overseas do not necessarily guarantee a good job back in China. Instead, work experience and expertise are the key selling points, they say.

However, greater opportunities may exist for those who are fully bilingual and equipped with hi-tech and management skills, or specialise in capital operations and the insurance industry.

If your skill-set is less marketable, you may need to rethink your strategy and avoid unrealistic goals. It is best not to limit one's options only to positions at international companies situated in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing.

Setting high goals can slow your job search. As a result, you might be called "sea weed", or "haidai" in Chinese - the word for weed in Chinese also sounds like that for waiting, rather than the usual nick-name "sea turtles," a Chinese term which describes those returning from abroad.

But not all things are doom and gloom. Your work experience abroad might help increase your job prospects in China. And if you are willing to relocate to central and western parts of the country, you might find you are much more appreciated there, rather than competing with other "sea turtles" in economically advanced areas in the east.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Story behind China's green economic overhaul

China has become a front-page story again as it is expected to deliver Europe from its debt crisis. Though loans to Europe may serve only as a remedy rather than a cure.

With advanced and abundant green innovations and know-how, Europeans could benefit a great deal from assisting China with its transition to a green economy.  

Though, increasing collaboration with the Chinese might not immediately bring about a change in direction of the European economy, it will certainly provide a sustainable solution as China is gaining leadership in the global green revolution.

So learning what China is doing for its green facelift could provide a prescription for Europeans.

Read the full story: China – a learner & a leader in green leapfrogging?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Aviation inclusion in EU ETS: a nuisance or a chance?

The world's first and largest emissions cap and trade programme , the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), will expand the sectors it covers to the aviation industry from the beginning of 2012.

This new move has drawn criticism and concerns from all over the world, especially non-EU air operators. Will the scheme be accepted globally over the next three months or will it remain an unsettled issue but offer the chance to create a global deal? Is it the time for all countries standing up to the challenge to regulate the aviation industry in a joint effort?

Earlier this week, China and Russia jointly expressed opposition to the imposition of the scheme on foreign airlines flying into the EU, citing issues of sovereignty infringement, additional economic burdens to the industry as well as lack of an international agreement to apply this unilateral plan.

The EU ETS started in January 2005, covering in the past only energy-intensive industrial installations, totaling more than 10,000 across Europe and producing nearly half of the EU's CO2 emissions.

The EU legislation which incorporates aviation into the EU ETS came into force in 2009. Under the guidance, as from 1st January 2012, emissions from all domestic and international flights that arrive at or depart from an EU airport will be governed by the scheme. Like industrial installations, airlines will receive tradeable allowances covering a certain level of CO2 emissions from their flights per year and after each year operators must surrender a number of allowances equal to their actual emissions in that year.

In summary, to comply with the requirements, airlines will have to monitor tonne-kilometers and CO2 emissions from 1st January 2010, report tonne-kilometer data and apply for free emissions allowances by 31st March 2011, and surrender allowances for 2012 emissions by 30st April 2013.

China and Russia have called for air carriers from other part of the world to join their project. They do not stand alone in denouncing the programme. US airlines have filed a lawsu against it.

European airlines have shown support to the initiative, but they have reservations on its implementation, considering the legal challenges, the foreign anger and the impact upon an already recession-mired Europe.

Lufthansa warned of the possibility that the initiative will become a "fiasco" when it goes into effect in 2012.

British Airways (BA) is concerned that it will lead to a negative legal battle at a time when a constructive debate on a global solution is needed. It believes that its implementation without a global solution will damage significantly EU airlines' competitiveness, as international passengers would try to avoid European hubs.

To break the deadlock, BA has suggested the scheme is initially implemented for intra-EU flights only, and to expand it to intercontinental flights when a global initiative that includes aviation is in place.

The aviation industry has grown rapidly in recent years, causing an increase in pollution, and thus there is a growing global awareness that emissions from this sector should be mitigated. In the EU alone, GHG emissions from aviation rose by 87% between 1990 and 2006.

It raises the question whether the EU's intention to provide a blueprint for mitigating aviation emissions through a worldwide cap-and-trade platform will be implemented and taken up elsewhere.

There is no doubt that huge challenges exist for the integration of existing global cap and trade programmes as a global system in the near future. Such programmes include the RGGI in northeast US with a special focus on power sectors and the economy-wide WCI covering western US and parts of Canada, as well as Japan's Tokyo Metropolitan efficiency trading scheme on buildings.

Under such circumstances, would it be a great opportunity for the aviation industrial to pioneer a sector-based global cap and trade programme to engage all countries into a concerted effort in the climate battle? Also, would it be smart for the EU ETS to take this opportunity to improve its system, in setting a benchmark, allowance allocation and trading approach, and to realize its dream in building a global initiative?

worldnewsreview, London, UK

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Leading emitters failing the world

For quite a while, China and the US have been linked together and put under the global spotlight due to both their global economic and climate impacts. However, they belong to different economic bloc, the South and North. The US, as the largest developed country, has been widely criticized for failing to fulfill its duty and take the leadership in fighting the climate crisis.  On the other hand, China, though already implementing massive domestic action to turn its low-carbon vision into reality, is blamed for using its status as a developing country as an excuse to continue polluting the world, something not accepted by much of the developed world.

China has, more than once, highlighted its status as a developing country at the Tianjin UNFCCC conference, which was concluded on Friday. This position is the fundamental reason for its not choosing to cap its emissions for absolute reductions but only to slow down the growth of emissions. However, its domestic targets to reduce carbon intensity of per unit GDP by 40-45% by 2020 have been mostly recommended globally, and the implementation of the ambitious targets will go through provincial-level efforts, to ensure the national goal is realized through this top-down approach.

Facing similar concern as China that emissions caps will have an impact upon GDP, the US has been lagging behind China after failing to pass the climate bill this year.  Despite this, the fact is that climate action plans have been designed and even executed at the sub-national state levels through the bottom-up approach, and climate efforts at the federal level are still actionable through the Clean Air Act and other related legislation.

Now the question is whether the climate issue should be perceived as a global one or just an issue connected between China and the US. Whether the two big nations are ready to stand up to take the leadership of the global climate efforts if they are entrusted with this privilege. Or if they fail in their duties, shall the whole world lose confidence in fighting climate change and overlook all efforts which have been, are and to be done on the ground even without any international deal.

The problem is that the whole world, influenced by media coverage, has given too much attention to climate negotiations, whose results are unfortunately decided by national interests rather than global interests. Most delegates negotiate for their countries' interests rather than the global interests or precisely the interests of the whole mankind. So in the near term, there is only a slim chance of reaching a deal.

The lack of progress at the UNFCCC conference in Tianjin has reduced hopes for a successful meeting in Cancun, Mexico in two months' time. If trust in governments' attempt to collaborate is lost, we have instead to look to people working on the ground and projects at home.

Pictured: Jonathan Pershing, US Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change and Chief US negotiator and China's Chief negotiator Su Wei

Friday, October 08, 2010

UN climate delegates warned against carbon market

Three NGOs jointly urged on Friday that UN climate delegates stop using carbon markets as an approach in combating climate crisis, and warned
that more harm than benefits stem from the market mechanism.

The warning came during a news conference, a joint effort of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), the Friends of the Earth (FOE), and The EU Forest Campaign (FERN), at the Tianjin UNFCCC conference a day ahead of its conclusion.

 "Carbon as a commodity into the same poorly regulated global markets that so recently tore apart developing country economies and pushed a hundred million more people into hunger is highly irresponsible," said IATP President James Harkness.

"There is a proposal here at the UNFCCC to introduce carbon credits from forests into carbon markets, but in reality, they do nothing to reduce emissions, and should not be counted as offsets," said Kate Dooley, Forests and Climate Campaigner at FERN, adding that "even offsetting is not mitigation."

Dooley argued that developed countries have agreed to offer, without conditionality, financial support to help the developing world fight against climate change. And thus the North using money to buy carbon credits from the South is wrong, she said, adding that it won't solve the problem and is bad for the South.

Nick Berning, Director of Public Advocacy and Communications, said that using carbon markets compromises climate integrity, and is subject to credit fraud and abuse, and will cause bribery for credit verifications. Issues like the uncertain nature of financial markets and high overheads will make carbon markets work less efficiently than the public fund, he added.

The organizations also argued that there are many other alternatives to carbon markets to raise funds for mitigation projects. Their opposition to carbon markets becomes noticeable and adds controversy to the issue, especially at a critical moment when the financial tool has been highly valued for its role in the global efforts in mitigating GHG emissions.

China has just announced that it will soon issue a provisional regulation on voluntary carbon trading, paving the way for creating a regional sector-based carbon market in the near term. This policy signal has long been awaited and widely welcomed, and is expected to create financial incentives for energy-efficiency and emissions-cutting tasks at provincial levels in China, contributing to the country's overall carbon intensity reduction target by 40-45% by

Carbon markets, especially its progress in China, have created heated discussions at several side events during the Tianjin UN conference.

pictured: L-R Nick Berning, Director of Public Advocacy and Communications from the Friends of the Earth, James Harkness: President of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, and Kate Dooley from the EU Forest Campaign

Thursday, October 07, 2010

UNFCCC side event spotlights China carbon market

Top officials of China's three climate and environmental exchanges have shown up at two UNFCCC side events held two days in a row in Tianjin, stealing the limelight of other activities at the climate change talks.

China has yet to implement a national cap on emissions and currently all carbon credits are being traded voluntarily. Even so, the prospects of China's carbon market have become a hot issue due to the huge market potential and lucrative opportunities for business people beyond national boundaries.

In China's latest national drive to pursue a low-carbon experiment in five provinces and eight cities, the country intends to trial a carbon market within
the low-carbon pilot areas and only for some certain economic sectors. The power industry is one potential sector where the pilot initiatives will be employed. The power industry often has a better record and availability of economic data and is better prepared to demonstrate carbon trading.

However, Yi Gang Wang, Deputy General Manage of China Beijing Environmental Exchange said, "in my own opinion, I cannot understand the (geo-economic) logic of operating a carbon market within the low-carbon pilot areas."

Mr. Wang gave a detailed presentation on October 7th on the key factors in deciding on the carbon price in China, and the implications of government policies such as subsidies and free credit allocation.

Asked whether improved performance of the three climate exchanges in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai would send a signal demanding the government to cap emissions in the near term, Ms. Mu Lingling, Vice President of Tianjin Climate Exchange, responded from a different perspective. The key issue was not whether an emissions cap should be imposed or not, she said. It was instead, important to build a mature carbon market on the ground.

Ms. Mu said she was confident that experience and lessons drawn from China's CDM projects will give a boost to the country's ability in operating a carbon market in the near term.

Meanwhile, Miss Li Jin, Business Supervisor, Research and Development Department of the Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange said China still needs to learn from overseas practices, such as EU ETS and RGGI, a power sector-focus carbon market covering 11 states in northeast United States, for trading standards and business-engaging mechanisms.

Will Tianjin climate talks build on COP15?

At the ongoing UNFCCC conference in the coastal city of Tianjin in northern China, negotiating parties are expected to use this last opportunity prior to their Cancun gathering to establish common ground for producing a climate agreement in Mexico in two months' time.  

Some progress has been made after the first three-days of negotiations, especially in shared visions and adaptation framework. Much of the talks focused on finance, technology and capacity building, making the Tianjin event appear pragmatic and productive. Less progress has been seen in the mitigation front, meanwhile loud calls for more balanced mitigation commitments have been aired.  

On the finance issue, doubts and uncertainty still remain about effective delivery of the support pledged by the developed world in Copenhagen to assist the developing world in combating climate change.

The 2009 Copenhagen Accord outlined two significant funding commitments from developed countries to finance adaptation, REDD + and technology transfer in the developing world. The first is a "Fast Start" investment of US$30 billion over three years. The other is a long-term commitment of US$100 billion per year by 2020. 

Contributing countries of the "Fast Start Finance" agreed that the funding would be "new and additional." However, there is a lack of a standard for the definition of "additional", and each donor nation has proposed its own definition.

Addressing this issue, China has pointed out that some committed finance stem from overseas development assistance of donor nations and thus does not meet the criteria of "new and additional".

At the same time, some less developed countries also challenged the scope and equity of the outflow of the Fast Start finance. They argued that those middle-income developing countries, which are not large enough like China and Brazil to have attractive climate projects, and meanwhile are not poor enough like Ethiopia to be given enough attention, fail to benefit from the Fast Start finance.

China was even cited to support this argument as 80 percent of CDM funding goes to five countries, 60 percent of which alone goes to China. 

In response, some experts from donor nations said that lack of capacity in some countries to deliver climate projects cannot justify the receipt of financial support. Though it has been said Fast Start finance will mainly support countries which are making efforts in low-carbon transition and those which are planning to pursue similar paths. But transparency and lack of criteria in finance allocation make many countries doubt its effectiveness, and whether it be properly supported by developed nations.

The fourteenth session of the AWG-KP and the twelfth session of the AWG-LCA are taking place from Monday 4th to Saturday 9th October 2010 at the Tianjin Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Center (MJCEC), Tianjin, China.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Can Google break China's censorship?

The strong Haiti earthquake and other events of similar weight might have stolen the limelight of Google China, which has decided not to filter its search engine results as required by the Chinese government, and prepared, as a consequence, to close its business in the world's leading internet market.

Google has been applauded by many Chinese people for its long-awaited courage to challenge the information censorship China relies on to tighten its control of people, allegedly for the sake of internal unification and domestic stability.

Chinese lay people have never been trusted by their government with the capability to make good judgements and tell right from wrong about what they read on the internet.

For thousands of years, people in this country seem to be told, and guided by the authorities as to what they should hear, see and read. 

As China becomes stronger, many people worry that the control over the flow of information will tighten too. And there are mixed reactions among Chinese people to the possible departure of Google. Some believe it may lead to increased government censorship while others argue that the potential departure may encourage the government to lessen its grip on the Internet.

There is no doubt that its leaving will be a great loss not only for Google's long-term business returns, but also for China's Internet industry and users. For many those who have used the variety of Google tools in their daily life and even work, it would not only mean a change of working habit, but also lead to a decrease of understanding of information technology.

This will bar Chinese netizens from accessing new technology and information development in an effective and efficient way. Whether this will enable the government to increase its control of this populous country is open to question.

Whatever decision Google China makes, it has already made its mark in the history of the Chinese Internet industry.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Obama in Copenhagen: bring hope for new climate deal?

The White House has announced that US President Barack Obama will attend the forthcoming UN climate change conference in Copenhagen to work with the international community for a "comprehensive and operational" Copenhagen accord.

In the context of an overall deal in Copenhagen that includes robust mitigation contributions from China and the other emerging economies, the President, said the White House is prepared to put on the table a US emissions reduction target in the range of 17% below 2005 levels in 2020 and ultimately in line with final US energy and climate legislation.

In light of Obama’s goal to reduce emissions 83% by 2050, the expected pathway set forth in this pending legislation would entail a 30% reduction below 2005 levels in 2025 and a 42% reduction below 2005 in 2030, said the White House, adding that Obama is working closely with Congress to pass energy and climate legislation as soon as possible..

The countries of the world, led by the major economies, have been urged by the White House to “do what it takes to produce a strong, operational agreement that will both launch us on a concerted effort to combat climate change and serve as a stepping stone to a legally binding treaty”.

However, it poses the question as to whether Obama’s presence and US climate targets will bring some hope to the Copenhagen conference, which reportedly will see the end of the Kyoto protocol, the only existing globally agreed climate treaty.

Bilateral and multilateral climate agreements, rather than a post-Kyoto deal have been reported to be highly possible as an outcome of the Copenhagen conference. This projection came as leading emitters, especially China and US, reject any commitment to capping emissions, regarded as the critical factor in discouraging and impeding the process for a new global climate agreement.

The two countries have been strongly urged to make legally binding targets instead of taking advantage of each other’s inaction, to take the lead in making concerted efforts to fight the climate crisis.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

China to embrace low-carbon city strategy

China's speedy urbanization has urged the government to take on a low-carbon approach, to kick off the green transformation of its urban development as part of the country's 12th five-year planning from 2011 to 2015.

It is forecast that up to 75 percent of the population in China will live in cities by 2050, a significant rise from the 44.9 percent in 2007. This will further the tension between the demand and supply of resources, and overstretch the accommodating capacity of the environment, says a recent report on China's low-carbon and eco-city development strategies.

Embracing low-carbon city model, which will lead to energy, industrial and lifestyle revolution, is the only way for Chinese cities to achieve sustainable growth, the report which was issued by the Chinese Society for Urban Studies points out.

China's aggregated CO2 emissions will keep growing until 2040, if China doesn't implement energy-saving and emissions-cutting measures, or only acts less vigorously, or only works for restructuring industrial setup to reduce the share of heavy industrials of the whole economy, says the report.

"Only adopting a low-carbon path, China is able to check the growth of its emissions 10 years ahead, namely by 2035," the report says.

Beijing has been called on to demonstrate low-carbon city development as a city suitable for living, to address the challenges it faces in population, transport, energy and the environment.

On the other hand, Beijing International Institute for Urban Development says that groups of cities will boom as urban agglomeration during the coming few years, to further the advancement of regional economic growth.

There is no doubt about the contribution of cities to China's development. China's top ten big cities in total are home to over 1/3 of the country's population, cover 11 percent of the country's areas and contribute to 2/3 of the country's GDP.