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China's Climate Conundrums
The Chinese Elephant in the Climate Treaty Room

For the first time in history China’s per-person carbon emissions have surpassed the EU’s—and the country’s total CO2 output is now higher than the America’s and EU’s combined. The news comes via the FT, just in time for tomorrow’s New York City climate summit, which China will not attend. Skyrocketing emissions in that country present a huge problem for any attempt to reduce emissions though a global climate treaty, as this NYT interview with scientist Glen Peters highlights:

There has been unprecedented growth in renewable technologies, but the construction of coal power plants continues almost unabated. Given these power plants will be in operation for 40 years or more, China has already committed to emit more in the future than it has in the past. Interestingly, if the remaining carbon quota to stay below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is shared amongst nations according to population, then China has already exceeded its share of the quota if these committed emissions are included. […]

While China is moving forward with stronger and stronger climate policies, it is unclear if China’s current level of ambition is consistent with keeping global warming below two degrees.

Until Beijing demonstrates a willingness to make the deep cuts and changes to its energy usage that the 2 percent temperature rise cap requires, all discussion of a comprehensive global climate treaty will be in vain. There is some hope that China’s efforts to boost its economy and tackle domestic pollution will have the side effect of reducing the country’s emissions. However, greens who hunger for a global solution won’t stop running up against China’s determination to do what it thinks best for its own economic growth.

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  • Fat_Man

    People who buy the Chinese blather about carbon and renewable energy are at best pathetically naive. By their actions, China has decided that carbon is something that rich laowai like to worry about, and they will humor the loawai in their PR, but seriously, they just don’t care. As for the wind turbines and solar panels, China is happy to sell just as many of them as the market will bear, but if they need electricity, they will build something that works, like a coal fired plant.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    There is no “Global Warming”, all of the predictions and computer models of the so called green house gas carbon dioxide causing an increase in temperature have proven false, as temperatures have not increased in 18 years. And who cares what China does anyway, that economy and culture is headed for the wall at high speed.

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