Tsinghua Environmental and Energy Law Forum: Global Choke Point - Confronting Energy Demand and Water Scarcity in China and the United States

April 14, 2011 // 6:00pm9:30pm

Note this event will be held in Beijing, China

Location: Law School of Tsinghua University, Mingli Building, Tsinghua University, Haidian District
First floor meeting room

J. Carl Ganter, Circle of Blue
Keith Schneider, Circle of Blue
Jennifer L. Turner, Woodrow Wilson Center's China Environment Forum

Dr. Liu Dingxiang, Ministry of Water Resources
Dr. Wang Mingyuan, Tsinghua University Law School

Underlying China's new standing in the world, like a tectonic fault line, is an increasingly fierce competition between energy and water that threatens to upend China's progress. Because of water scarcity, central government and provincial leaders, for instance, have halted at four the number of new coal-to-liquid fuels plant allowed to be built in a program that once envisioned nearly 20 new plants. The process of turning coal to a ton of liquid fuel can take as much as 12 tons or 3,200 gallons of water. Similarly in the United States, the confrontation between energy and water—over millions of gallons taken from ranchers to develop the deep oil and gas shale reserves of the west, or the battle between Georgia and Florida over diminishing drinking water reserves—is occurring in the places where growth is highest and water resources are under the most stress—California, the Southwest, the Rocky Mountain West, and the Southeast.

Circle of Blue and the China Environment Forum at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars will give an absorbing presentation on the energy-water choke points that are tightening around the world's two largest economies.

Over the past nine months, Circle of Blue and the China Environment Forum explored the extensive water circulatory system and vast energy production musculature that makes China and the United States go, and what could also contribute to making both nations falter. The new findings, presented in rich narratives, data, imagery and graphics, provide compelling evidence of a potentially ruinous confrontation between growth, water, and fuel that is readily visible in both countries and virtually certain to grow more dire over the next decade. Global Choke Point, though, is not necessarily a narrative of doom and gloom. China, in particular, enacted and enforced a range of water conservation and efficiency measures that work. From 1995 to 2010, the total amount of water used in China increased by roughly 15 percent even as the economy grew tenfold. The presentation highlights the oft-overlooked energy-water choke points that the United States and China are facing and stimulates discussion on opportunities for collaboration to address them. Choke Point: U.S. coverage was nominated for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize.

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