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经济学人:气候变化 次好方案获认可

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Climate change

气候变化
In praise of second best
次好方案获认可
A carbon price would be better, but Barack Obama's plan to cut emissions from power plants is welcome
为碳排放定价显然更为理想,但奥巴马的电厂减排方案依然备受欢迎。
NOTHING is too good for the United States Congress. The Capitol even has its own power station. The Capitol Power Plant in south-east Washington is still puffing away, though it was built in 1910—making it older than most museums of power—and even though it has not generated any electricity since 1951. It pipes steam and chilled water to heat or cool the nation's legislators, and in the process it pumps out over 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. In 2000, when the administrator of the plant tried to switch it over from burning coal to natural gas to cut that pollution, senators from coal-producing states ganged up to stop him. The plant symbolises everything that is wrong with America's power sector and the policies that influence it.
这对美国国会来说不是什么好事。国会甚至拥有自己的电站。位于华盛顿东南部的国会电力工厂建于1910年,历史比大多数电力博物馆还悠久。虽然这家电厂自从1951年后就不再发电,却还在造成污染。电厂通过管道输送蒸汽和冷冻水来为立法者们取暖纳凉,在这个过程中,电厂每年会排放超过100,000吨二氧化碳。2000年,电厂管理者试图将原来的燃料煤换成天然气,来减少污染。但是,生产煤的各州议员却联合抗议。了解此电厂,可知道美国电力部门出现的问题以及影响电力部门的各项政策。

So President Barack Obama's proposal on June 2nd to cut CO2 emissions from power plants is welcome. Power stations are the single biggest source of greenhouse-gas emissions in America, accounting for a third of the total. The plan to cut them by 30% from their 2005 level by 2030 is the biggest step an American president has taken to curb climate change for several decades.

因此,6月2号,奥巴马总统提出减少电厂二氧化碳排放量的提议备受欢迎。电厂是美国温室气体排放量的最大来源,排放量约占总排放量的三分之一。根据提议,到2030年,温室气体排放量需在2005年的水平上下降30%。这是几十年来,美国总统在遏制气候变化上迈出的最大一步。
The proposal matters for political reasons: several states which Democrats must win if they are to keep control of the Senate are also coal producers, where anything that hurts miners is unpopular. So the plan probably increases the chance that Republicans will recapture the upper chamber of Congress in November. It also matters because of an international timetable: countries are negotiating a treaty to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions globally which can be signed at the end of 2015. The president's proposal makes it more likely that some such deal will see the light of day.
从政治的角度,这项提议很重要:为了守住议会的席位,民主党必须要争取几个生产煤的州的支持,在这些州,有损矿主利益的行为不受待见。所以,这项提议很可能增加共和党于11月重获国会上议院席位的几率。从国际上看,这项提议也很重要:各国将要商定一项在全球范围内减少温室气体排放量的条约,并可能于2015年底签署。奥巴马的提议使得类似协议有了一丝曙光。
Because of these implications, the plan has been greeted in America with wild partisanship. The left welcomes it as a decisive step away from fossil fuels. The right condemns it as a new tax on American companies and consumers which will only help China, where pollution will rise further, negating any benefit to the climate. Both views are exaggerated. The truth is that the proposal won't save the planet, but it will bring about small improvements that are worth having.
因为上述原因,美国国内对此项提议态度分立。左派赞成,认为这是减少化石燃料决定性的一步。右派则指责,这只会加重美国企业和消费者的税赋负担,而得益于中国。中国人口不断上涨,这会抵消此项提议带来的利益。双方的观点都被夸大了。事实是,这项提议不会拯救地球,但是,它依然能带来意义非凡的些许进步。
Satisfyingly mediocre
令人满意的平庸方案
Assuming the plan is carried out, it would reduce total American carbon emissions by around 5%. That is a lot for one measure, though tiny compared with the overall cuts required to rein in climate change. American power plants have already reduced their emissions by 15% since 2005, so requiring them to cut the same amount over a longer period is not too arduous. The plan will raise electricity prices and kill some jobs, but it will also save lives, most immediately by cutting particulate pollution.
假设这项提议得以实施,美国的碳排放量会减少约5%。虽然对于应对气候变化所要求的总排放量这还不够,但对于这一具体措施,已然进步巨大。自2005年以来,美国的电厂已经将温室气体排放量减少了15%,因此,在更长时间期限内减少等量气体排放应该是可行的。这项提议会提高电费,减少部分工作,但也因减少了粒状物污染拯救了部分生命。
It is far from the best policy. Ideally, Congress would have passed a carbon tax or created a carbon market, putting a price on emissions and letting buyers and sellers decide on the cheapest way to reduce them. Instead, the government is telling a particular sector how much to cut and when—and then adding layers of complexity by allowing different states different ceilings. As a method of dealing with a problem, this has all the attractions of a blackout in a blizzard.
这不是最好的方案。理想来说,国会应该通过碳税提案或建立碳市场,给排放定价,让买家卖家自行决定,使用最便宜的方式减少温室气体排放。相反,需要政府告知一个特定部门(电力提供商)减排量以及减排时间。由于不同州有不同的排放量上限,实施又变得更复杂。这是解决问题的一个方法,是应对打击的一次管制。
But it became inevitable once Congress rejected a better approach—cap-and-trade legislation—during Mr Obama's first term. The current approach is at least better than nothing, the most likely alternative. In climate policy, delay is rarely good. The more carbon is in the atmosphere, the more expensive it is to cut back and the more damage it does in the meantime. Anyway, Mr Obama's command-and-control approach does not forestall setting up a carbon market later.
但一旦国会拒绝了另一项更好的方案—奥巴马第一任期提出的“总量控制和排放交易”法案,此项提案必会得以采用。现有的方案至少比什么措施也没有更好,是最好的替代方案。气候政策拖延不得。大气中的二氧化碳越多,要减量就更贵,同时会产生更大的破坏。此外,奥巴马的“命令与管制”方案不会阻碍日后建立碳市场。
The second-best approach is dearer but not dramatically worse than the best would have been. Power plants and electricity consumers would bear the main burden either way. And the plan's benefits (over $50 billion according to the administration, mostly from improving people's health) still outweigh its costs. One hitch is that the costs are all incurred in America whereas many of the benefits are spread round the world.
次好的方案更昂贵,但并不比最好的方案差多少。负担主要落在了电厂和用电的消费者身上。电厂的收益依然高于成本。一个小问题是,成本都产生于美国国内,而收益遍布全球。
In short, the proposal is a net gain as it stands—but the international response could make its benefits bigger. China's government is mulling over a national cap on carbon emissions, which would mean it is going further than Mr Obama. The regime in Beijing will, and should, impose such a cap in its national self-interest. But China's leaders like diplomatic cover. If Mr Obama's new rules help cajole the world's largest polluter to do more to cut emissions, then second-best would be much better than nothing.
总之,这项提议会收获净利,但是国际的反应会让其收益更大。中国政府正在考虑在全国范围内限制二氧化碳的排放量,想得比奥巴马更远。中国政府会为了国家利益进行限排管制,但中国领导热衷于外交掩护。如果奥巴马的新提议能让世界上最大的污染国为减排多做点贡献,那次好的方案就比什么方案也没有好很多。
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legislation [.ledʒis'leiʃən]

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n. 立法,法律

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administrator [əd'ministreitə]

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n. 管理人,行政官

 
approach [ə'prəutʃ]

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n. 接近; 途径,方法
v. 靠近,接近,动

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administration [əd.mini'streiʃən]

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n. 行政,管理,行政部门

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diplomatic [.diplə'mætik]

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adj. 外交的,古字体的,老练的

 
measure ['meʒə]

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n. 措施,办法,量度,尺寸
v. 测量,量

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particular [pə'tikjulə]

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adj. 特殊的,特别的,特定的,挑剔的
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planet ['plænit]

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n. 行星

 
decisive [di'saisiv]

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adj. 决定性的

 
exaggerated [ig'zædʒəreitid]

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adj. 言过其辞的,夸大的 动词exaggerate的

 

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