Some copying is great

Back to the home page

This is a copy of a post on the DECC blog that I wrote in September 2012. See the original.

An exciting day for me. When we published the DECC 2050 pathways calculator, it was unusual in two respects: it was a simple open source spreadsheet, and it had a web front end that allowed anyone to play with it. We made it a simple open source spreadsheet because we wanted to make it easy for other people to check it and give us suggestions on how to make it better. We got that. But we also got something unexpected: other countries wanted to use it and make their own versions.

So, I’m sitting here today in Beijing, next to a panel of Chinese government officials, who have taken our work, changed it to work for their country, added their own data, tested it with their own stakeholders and started using it in their own discussions. That was pretty exciting for me. But it isn’t the end. They have also copied us and put a web front end on their version so anyone, including me and you, can play with it. Take a look at 1.

You can use it to see what would happen if China built 800 Gigawatts of onshore wind or if its industry grew more or less quickly, or if it boosted the efficiency of its coal generation. Well done to the Chinese team, in particular, Dr Yang who led the team and Mr Zhang who pulled a lot of the analysis together. Well done as well to the Foreign Office team in Beijing, in particular Leo Geddes and Nan Luo, for making this practical bit of climate diplomacy happen.

In the words of Dr Yang, the person in charge of China’s Calculator development, they released an on-line version today “in order to create a discussion forum where even a child could be engaged, so that people with different views about what is best for the energy system can understand each other, leading to mutual feedback and cross fertilisation”. Just like the UK. Some copying is great.

  1. They have even partially translated it into English