Monday, June 04, 2007

China's National Climate Change Program

The Chinese government has published its first national climate change program. The Chinese claim to place great importance to the issue of climate change, but as a "developing country," they will only address climate change within the overall context of "national sustainable development strategy."

The report estimated that global warming emissions in China have doubled between 1994 and 2004 from 3 trillion to 6 trillion tons of CO2 equivalent. However, they view these emissions in per capita terms, by which measure they are very low. Their immense population provides them the cover they need to avoid any mandatory emission caps.

The Chinese plan to deal with global warming emissions includes decreasing relative reliance on coal, developing renewable energy sources, a nationwide tree planting campaign, population control, and other regulatory and public education measures.

The problem, of course, is that in absolute terms, the Chinese economy is huge. Nominally, China now has the fourth largest economy in the world, after the U.S., Japan and Germany. After adjusting for China's deliberately undervalued currency, China is the second largest economy in the world, roughly eighty percent as big as the U.S. economy.

Estimates are that China is emitting about half the amount of global warming gasses as the U.S. and with its economy growing at ten percent a year, may overtake the U.S. by the end of the decade.

In short, the world's two biggest contributors to global warming are in denial about the problem, unwilling to make serious changes out of fear of harming their economies. Until these two countries realize the seriousness of the problem, there is little hope for any progress.


Post a Comment

<< Home