The Luxembourg ambassador to China, a Miami University alumnus, will discuss various perspectives on energy consumption and its environmental implications in a presentation on Monday.
The Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies is sponsoring Carlo Krieger’s speech in hopes students will gain from it an understanding of global warming and become active in helping to solve related environmental issues, according to Karen Dawisha, director of the Havighurst Center.
As the Luxembourg ambassador to China and former ambassador to Russia, Krieger is bringing with him a diverse set of perspectives on international politics and financial markets related to energy, Dawisha said.
Krieger will discuss what needs to be done to move past Copenhagen and what the next step for the United States and China is in regards to the reduction of carbon emissions, Dawisha said.
“Copenhagen was a Chinese and American failure,” Dawisha said. “(So) what’s the next step?”
Copenhagen was a failure for China and the U.S. because the two countries did not come away in agreement about limiting the growth of greenhouse gas emissions, Dawisha said.
“There had been a protocol signed in Kyoto and it was running out,” Dawisha said. “The idea of Copenhagen was to get people to extend the work that had been done in Kyoto, which set targets for governments to limit the growth in greenhouse gasses.”
China, India and the United States, three of the world’s largest polluters, refused to sign the Kyoto protocol, and their greenhouse gas emissions consequently grew in excess, Dawisha said, explaining the reason Copenhagen was necessary after Kyoto.
“(Copenhagen was) the second attempt to get these three huge polluters to sign on,” Dawisha said.
Dawisha said it is imperative students listen to Krieger and learn about the implications of pollution and global warming.
“(Students need) a clear understanding of the reasons why Copenhagen didn’t succeed, but also (to know that) this problem is not going away – it’s only accelerating,” Dawisha said. “The generation that students live in is the generation that is going to be hit very, very hard by global warming … students generally need to educate themselves … and become active in helping solve (these issues).”
Chiou Chen, professor of electrical engineering, is part of the Energy-Based Curriculum Faculty Learning Community, which is co-sponsoring the event.
Chen said Krieger’s speech would be very important for students to hear because Krieger will discuss various perspectives from which to look at energy.
“We want students to take away that energy is not just a technical issue,” Chen said. “It’s also a diplomatic, economic and political issue.”
It is important for the United States to develop alternative energies because the U.S. depends on petroleum for 80-85 percent of its energy and currently imports 70 percent of the petroleum it consumes. The economic implication of this is that the value of the U.S. dollar depreciates as more dollars are spent outside the country, Chen said.
Next to China, the United States currently emits the second highest amount of carbon dioxide in the world. Issues of carbon emission will be addressed again by various countries at a meeting in Cancun at the end of the year, Chen said.
First-year international student Meng Zhang, from China, thinks the environment is a very important topic, but that Krieger’s speech will not benefit students.
“People talk about environmental degradation and pollution a lot, (but they still) waste a lot, especially in the U.S.,” Zhang said. “At first, it made me uncomfortable, but now I just accepted that people here waste energy.”
Zhang said that students cannot be taught to be environmentally friendly.
“(In China,) we don’t have that much environmental education, but it’s just our human nature,” Zhang said. Children must be raised by environmentally conscious parents who lead by example, Zhang said.
“It’s useless, it’s helpless,” Zhang said, referring to her belief it is impossible to teach students to be environmentally conscious in their actions. “This will only help people who already have good habits and already care about the environment.”