《经济学人》双语阅读:煤炭与气候变化
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2021-09-12

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来源于《社论》版块

Coal and climate change

煤炭与气候变化

Betting on black

押注煤炭前途昏暗

Asian governments are the biggest supporters of the filthiest fuel

亚洲政府是最脏燃料的最大支持者

In the dense gloom about climate change,news of coal’s decline seems like a pinprick of hope.President Donald Trump may adore“beautiful,clean coal”,but even he cannot save it.A growing number of countries want to phase out coal entirely,a transition eased by cheap natural gas and the plunging cost of wind and solar power.

在气候变化的阴霾中,煤炭产量下降的消息似乎是一丝希望。美国总统唐纳德•特朗普或许崇尚“美丽、清洁的煤炭”,但即便是特朗普也无法拯救煤炭。越来越多的国家希望完全淘汰煤炭,廉价的天然气和大幅下降的风能和太阳能发电成本缓和了过渡过程。

That is good news.Coal has been the largest engine of climate change to date,accounting for nearly a third of the rise in average temperatures since the Industrial Revolution.Any pressure on it therefore counts as progress.

这是个好消息。迄今为止,煤炭一直是气候变化的最大引擎,在工业革命以来平均气温的上升中占了近三分之一。因此,对煤炭施加的任何压力都被视为进步。

However,last year coal-fired electricity emitted more than ten gigatonnes of carbon dioxide for the first time,30%of the world’s total.It may be in decline in the West,but many Asian governments continue to promote coal-fired power generation.They are making a dangerous bet.

然而,去年燃煤发电首次排放了超过100亿吨的二氧化碳,占世界总量的30%。在西方,这一比例可能正在下降,但许多亚洲国家的政府仍在继续推广燃煤发电。他们在下一个危险的赌注。

Asia accounts for 75%of the world’s coal demand—China alone consumes half of it.The Chinese government has taken steps to limit pollution and support renewables.Yet coal consumption there rose in 2018,as it did the year before.In India coal demand grew by 9%last year.In Vietnam it swelled by almost a quarter.To keep the rise in global temperatures to no more than 1.5°C relative to pre-industrial times,climatologists insist that almost all coal plants must shut by 2050,which means starting to act now.Today’s trends would keep the last coal plant open until 2079,estimates UBS,a bank.Asia’s coal-fired power regiment has a sprightly average age of 15,compared with a creaky 40 years in America,close to retirement.

亚洲占世界煤炭需求的75%,仅中国就占了一半。中国政府已经采取措施限制污染,支持可再生能源。然而,与前2017年一样,2018年中国的煤炭消费量有所上升。去年印度的煤炭需求增长了9%。在越南,这一数字增长了近四分之一。为了将全球气温相对于工业化前时期的上升幅度控制在1.5摄氏度以内,气候学家坚持认为,到2050年,几乎所有的燃煤电厂都必须关闭,这意味着现在就要开始行动。据瑞士联合银行估计,按照目前的趋势,最后一家燃煤电厂将一直运营到2079年。亚洲燃煤电厂的平均运行年限是15年,而美国勉强维持40年,最后接近退休状态。

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There are several reasons for this,but one stands out:government support.In India state-owned companies invest more than$6bn in coal mining and coal-fired power each year;statebacked banks provide some$10.6bn in financing.Indonesia doles out more than$2bn annually for consumption of coalfired power.Japan and South Korea finance coal projects outside their borders,too.

原因有很多,但最突出的一个是:政府的支持。在印度,国有企业每年在煤炭开采和燃煤发电方面的投资超过60亿美元;国有银行提供了约106亿美元的融资;印尼每年为燃煤发电支出逾20亿美元。日本和韩国也为境外煤炭项目提供资金。

Government support is hardly surprising.State-backed coal firms make money and create jobs.Wind turbines and solar panels provide power only intermittently;for now,dirtier power plants are needed as back up.Gas is pummelling coal in America,but remains a bit-player in India and much of South-East Asia,since it has to be imported and is relatively expensive.

政府的支持不足为奇。国有煤炭企业赚钱并创造就业机会。风力涡轮机和太阳能电池板只能间歇性地提供电力;目前,需要更脏的发电厂作为后备。在美国,天然气正在代替煤炭,但在印度和东南亚大部分地区,天然气使用比例仍然不高,因为天然气必须进口,而且相对昂贵。

Disentangling coal from the region’s economies is difficult.Indonesian coal companies are a powerful lobby;not coincidentally,power tariffs favour coal over wind and solar projects.In India coal subsidises passenger fees on railways.And heavy lending by state-owned banks has tied the health of the financial system to that of the coal industry.

将煤炭从这些地区的经济中分离出来是困难的。印尼煤炭公司是一个强大的游说团体;与风能和太阳能项目相比,电力关税更有利于煤炭项目,这并非巧合。在印度,煤炭收入能补贴铁路客运费用。国有银行的大量放贷将金融体系的健康状况与煤炭行业的健康状况联系在一起。

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Nevertheless,governments betting on coal face three big risks.One is environmental.Emissions from coal plants that are already built—let alone new ones—will ensure that the world exceeds the level of carbon-dioxide emissions likely to push global temperatures up by more than 1.5°C.

然而,押注煤炭的政府面临三大风险。一个是环境。已建成的燃煤电厂的排放——更不用说新建电厂了——将导致全球二氧化碳排放量超过可能将全球气温推高1.5摄氏度以上的水平。

There is an economic risk,too.Public-sector zeal for coal is matched only by private-sector distaste.Banks,including Asian ones,have increasingly said they will stop funding new coal plants.Wind and solar farms make coal look increasingly expensive.A study has found that private banks provided three-quarters of loans to Indian renewables projects last year;state-backed banks doled out two-thirds of those for coal.

第二是经济风险。与公共部门对煤炭的热情相对的是私营部门对其的厌恶。包括亚洲银行在内越来越多的银行表示,将停止为新建燃煤电厂提供资金。风力发电厂和太阳能发电厂使得煤炭变得越来越昂贵。一项研究发现,去年私有银行为印度可再生能源项目提供了四分之三的贷款;其中三分之二由国有银行用于购买煤炭。

And then there is politics.Voters do not like breathing soot.More of them are concerned about climate change,too,as they face unpredictable growing seasons,floods and droughts.

第三是政治。选民不喜欢吸入烟尘。他们中更多的人也担心气候变化,因为他们面临着无法预测的生长季节、洪水和干旱。

Promisingly,more Asian politicians are voicing support for clean power.In July Rodrigo Duterte,the Philippines’president,instructed his energy minister to reduce his country’s dependence on coal.In June India’s government said it planned to have 500 gigawatts of renewable power by 2030.But to speed the transition,governments in Asia and elsewhere must do more.

更有希望的是,越来越多的亚洲政界人士表示支持清洁能源。今年7月,菲律宾总统罗德里戈•杜特尔特要求能源部长减少菲律宾对煤炭的依赖。今年6月,印度政府表示,计划到2030年实现5亿千瓦的可再生能源发电能力。但为了加快转型,亚洲和其他地区的政府必须做得更多。

Politicians should move faster to reduce state support for coal.Rich countries should find ways to help.Middle-income countries in Asia would be right to point out that wealthier counterparts used coal to fuel their own growth and that America,Britain,Germany and Japan are among those that continue to support coal,for instance through tax breaks and budgetary transfers(and imports from coal-powered Asia).Abandoning coal in Asia may require diplomacy on a scale that few governments are ready to contemplate.But abandon coal they must.

政客们应该加快行动,减少国家对煤炭的支持。富裕国家应该想办法提供帮助。亚洲中等收入国家应该正确地指出,相对富裕的国家用煤炭来推动自己的经济增长,而美国、英国、德国和日本是继续支持煤炭的国家之一,例如通过减税和预算转移(以及从以煤炭为动力的亚洲进口)。在亚洲弃用煤炭可能需要外交手段,其规模之大,很少有政府愿意考虑。但他们必须放弃煤炭。

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coal 煤炭 are 亚洲 for