Climate concerns push Chile to the forefront of carbon pricing on copper

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Energy Observer, San Francisco

Ricardo Lagos, the 80-year-old former Chilean president, may no longer be head of state, but he is still at the forefront of climate change discussions.

During a major climate summit last month in California, Lagos led a delegation of several Chilean experts in conversations about climate-change issues with national policy makers and research institutes from around the world.

"There are some major problems -- climate change, immigration and drugs. Those three things are not domestic policy issues any more in today’s world but international issues that need to be solved together," Lagos said in an interview with international reporters at the Global Climate Action Summit. “[Setting] carbon pricing and developing renewable energy are actions that Chile is taking to address climate change.”

Chile floats carbon-impact pricing for copper

Many countries have set prices for carbon emissions, including Chile, a major mining nation with the largest-known copper reserves in the world.

“Nowadays copper is still a commodity,” Lagos said. But more people who demand cooper are asking to put a price on its carbon emission footprint per ton.

Under those terms, customers would pay different prices for copper depending on its carbon footprint or the impact its production has on a local community. Creating different prices for products with different certifications would mean the “decommodification of copper,” Lagos added.

The cost to produce copper in Chile is very high, usually about two-thirds of the cost per ton of copper, said Lagos. And because the energy supply comes mainly from hydropower, the energy cost is much higher in dry seasons.

“If the energy price can be reduced by 10 percent,” he said, “then the production and supply of copper will be greatly improved.”

That’s already starting to happen as Chile actively develops its renewable energy sources.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the cost of renewable energy, such as wind, solar and geothermal, is rapidly declining in Latin America. Wind and solar power generation in the region has also increased significantly. From 2009 to 2017, the average price of electricity auctions for solar power in Latin America plummeted 87 percent, and wind energy prices fell 37 percent from 2008 to 2016.

In 2016, the Chilean government passed an energy development action plan that sets a goal of having 60 percent of electricity come from renewable sources in 2035 and 70 percent by 2050.

Edward Frei, another former Chilean president, told EO that based on current investment incentives and the Chilean government's emphasis on clean energy, he expected that 70 percent of the energy used by Chile in 2025 will be clean and non-polluting.

China-Chile fiber optic connection discussed under BRI

At the beginning of this year, Chinese state-owned energy companies State Power Investment Corporation, China Southern Power Grid and Three Gorges invested in renewable energy, power transmission and distribution and hydropower projects in Chile.

In addition, BYD, Goldwind, Trina Solar and many other private energy enterprises have gradually entered the Chilean market with a particular focus on energy and power-related investments.

Projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a billion-dollar-plus investment in reviving cross-continental trading routes, fall mainly under the field of infrastructure, Lagos told EO reporters. But connecting the continents through fiber optics should also be considered.

“As important as physical infrastructure construction is, we must take into account the requirements of the new phase of globalization,” Lagos said. “Current cross-border data flows are the main driving force, and digital infrastructure should be built to serve them.”

Those connections, he continued, should flow from South America to Asia or to Europe.

“The more such connections and the wider the scope, the better the development of the two places," Lagos said.

Over the past 25 years, large-scale, fiber-optic cable networks have been built across the oceans and across coastal areas in the northern Pacific Ocean, which has had a huge impact on the lives of local people.

Lagos claimed that a fiber-optic project between China and South America is now in discussion.

“The trans-Pacific fiber-optic cable between China and Chile connects Asia and Latin America. It will greatly promote economic growth and development on both sides of the Pacific region. I think that’s a great opportunity for China’s 'BRI' projects in Chile,” Lagos said.

This story was supported by the 2018 Climate Change Media Partnership, a collaboration between Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Foundation. 

高端访问〡智利前总统拉戈斯:“一带一路”数字基础设施与实体基础设施建设同样重要

 

摘要:中国与南美的海底光缆项目已经进入具体讨论中

 

eo记者蔡译萱 发自旧金山

今年80岁的智利前总统里卡多·拉戈斯(Ricardo Lagos)依旧处于气候变化、能源合作讨论的最前沿,早于2007-2010年间,他曾就任联合国气候变化特使,此次在美国旧金山全球气候行动峰会(GCAS)期间,他带领数位智利专家与各国的政策制定者、研究机构,就气候变化与能源等议题进行磋商。

 

 “在一些领域国际社会有着共同利益。气候变化、移民、毒品这三大问题是我们面临的共同问题,今时今日已不是国内政策能解决的,而是需要国际政治层面来共同解决,”他向eo记者表示,“给碳定价、发展可再生能源是智利为应对气候变化正在做出的行动”。

 

碳足迹将影响大宗商品定价

 目前全球已有许多国家对碳排放设定了价格,智利也在其列。据拉戈斯介绍,智利铜矿产量很高,探明的铜储量居世界第一。目前铜是一种大宗商品,传统的铜价定价模式是以铜的品质为基准,但现在已经有很多人要求采用新的定价机制。

 

”届时,铜价将取决于其生产过程的碳排放量以及对产地的环境影响。而以碳排放标准重新定价,显然低碳排的铜价就要比高碳排的铜价格高。目前智利矿企正要求建立生产的每吨铜的碳排放可追踪体系,这意味着铜的去商品化,”拉戈斯认为,定价机制的改变将会引起巨大的变化,铜以后有极大可能不再作为大宗商品。

 

而在应对气候变化政策推动下,发生变化的不止是矿产品的定价,其生产供应也将有所影响。

 

拉戈斯指出,智利矿业开采使用能源成本较高,通常生产每吨铜大约有三分之二的成本是能源成本,且能源供应主要依赖水力发电,遇到少雨季能源成本可能会越来越高。“但是,现在智利大力发展可再生能源,如果能源价格能降低10%,那么铜的生产供应情况就会大为改观,这也是目前正在发生的事。”

 

国际能源署(IEA)在其近期出版的《世界能源年度投资报告》的数据显示,拉丁美洲的风能,太阳能和地热等可再生能源成本正在迅速下降。该地区的风能和太阳能发电量也因此显着增加。从2009年到2017年,拉丁美洲供应太阳能的电力拍卖平均价格暴跌87%,风能价格从2008年到2016年下降了37%。

 

事实上,2016年智利政府通过了能源发展2050行动计划,目标是2035年和2050年分别有60%和70%以上的电力来自可再生能源发电,在此前eo记者对智利另一位前总统爱德华多·弗雷的采访中,他曾提到,近四年来智利国家能源部和各企业进行交流并以招标的形式发展太阳能和风能。基于现在的招商引资以及智利政府对于清洁能源的重视,可以预期到2025年智利使用的能源70%都将是无污染的清洁能源。

 

中智欲建海底光纤,将成数字丝绸之路最大机遇

今年以来,中国的能源企业陆续在智利开展能源项目的投资合作,先后有国家电投、南方电网、三峡等大型央企在智利投资可再生能源、输配电及水电项目,此外,比亚迪、金风科技、天合光能等众多民企也逐渐挺进智利市场,能源及电力相关投资尤其抢手。

 

在谈及中国企业在智利开展的“一带一路”项目时,拉戈斯告诉eo记者,中国的“一带一路”倡议主要还是在基础设施领域开展项目,但在实体基础设施建设之后,还应该考虑通过光纤来连接各个大陆。

 

“与实体基础设施建设同样重要的是,我们必须考虑到全球化新阶段的要求,当前跨境数据流动是主要动力,应建设数字基础设施为其服务。并且这种连接不只是中国和亚太、欧洲之间而是更广的范围,例如从南美到亚洲或者到欧洲,这样的连接越多,范围越广,对两地发展就越好”,拉戈斯表示。

 

而在过去的25年中,在太平洋北部跨大洋及沿海地区已建成大规模光纤电缆网络,给当地人们的生活带来巨大影响。

 

拉戈斯对eo记者称,中国与南美的海底光缆项目已经进入具体的讨论之中,“光缆在未来的数字时代能够连接世界,中国与智利间的跨太平洋光纤电缆使亚洲和拉丁美洲相连,将会大力促进太平洋两岸的经济增长与发展。我认为这是未来‘一带一路’在智利最大的机遇。”

 

电力企业私有化,监管更重要

作为学者型官员,拉戈斯也是一名经济学家和律师,从1976年至1984年担任联合国经济学家。 上世纪90年代,拉戈斯在智利总统艾尔文(Aylwin)及其继任者爱德华多·弗雷(Eduardo Frei)任职期间,担任教育部长和公共工程部长。而后通过民选,在2000年到2006年担任智利总统。他被誉为 “经济界的莫扎特”,在其任内,2000年智利政府规定国家电力公司全部实行私有化,在10年内,智利电力供应系统的效率显著提高。

 

但是回顾智利电力企业私有化的进程,拉戈斯表示这一过程中也有一些经验教训,私有化也需要谨慎。他指出早期的私有化并不透明,尤其是在军政府独裁统治中期(上世纪80年代初期),当时的私有化是在无规章监督的情况下进行,并不是很公开。

 

“举例来说,如果一开始只提出对一家公司10%的股份进行私有化,而其余90%还是公有股权,那还要考虑一下。除非有人知道,明年、后年还会有另外的10% ,今天的10%只是一个开始,当你拥有超过50%的股权时,就将成为这间公司的所有者”,拉戈斯向eo记者表示。“但如果你事先知道,今天的10%只是私有化政策的开始,然后将对价格进行操纵。这与直接宣告着我将成为公司的所有者,要对国有公司60%股权进行私有化不同,所以通常我会说私有化的过程不是很干净。”

 

他提到,后来有很多讨论,已经这样被私有化的企业有没有可能重新协定股权,但事实是,在独裁统治的时候的私有化,即便是民主党掌权后也很难再改变了。