News on greenhouse gases emissions in China 1


For the past days I collected four articles on Chinese greenhouse gases emissions. It begun with a single tweet on October 23 reporting that they could double by 2030 if nothing was done.

Then, the WWF issued a report on the external cost of coal burning in China which is estimated to $250 billion (200 billion €) for last year alone, or the equivalent of 7.1% of the country’s GDP.

I also found an article on how China is leapfrogging the USA to cut energy consumption and another one on how future climate change mitigation will be tough.

On the first topic, the Daily Green noted :

If China continues under a business-as-usual trajectory, without seriously cutting back on its carbon emissions, then its greenhouse gas output could double — or more — by 2030.

By that time, China’s emissions would be equal to nearly half of all the world’s emissions in 2007. And that estimate includes only pollution from burning fossil fuels, not from clearing forests, farming or other land uses, which can typically account for a third or more of a nation’s emissions.

That’s according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, as detailed by Reuters. Whether and how the global economic slowdown would affect those projections isn’t clear.

On the second issue, the WWF notes in its press release :

China’s coal bill in 2007 reached a total external cost of 1.7 trillion Yuan ($250bn), equivalent to 7.1 per cent of China’s gross domestic product the same year.

(…) The report, The True Cost of Coal, outlines the external costs to China of using coal by including the costs of air and water pollution, ecosystem degradation, damage to infrastructure, human injuries and loss of life, and takes into account the distortion of government regulations.

(…) With each tonne of coal consumed in 2007 alone, China paid an extra RMB150 (note : approx. $21 or 17€) for environmental damage, the report shows. This figure does not factor in the costs of the impacts of climate change resulting from coal combustion, which would make China’s coal bill significantly higher.

(…) “Recognizing the true cost of coal would create incentives to developing cleaner, sustainable energy sources,” said Yang Ailun, Climate and Energy Campaign Manager of Greenpeace China.

Thirdly here is what the folks at TreeHugger think about China’s ability to move toward a cleaner future :

Don’t forget that China’s new cars are already more fuel efficient than those of the United States.

(…) Sorry, U.S., but China’s railway system is also far superior to yours. On the innovation front, it’s about to bring some brand new hybrid locomotives online (albeit made in Pennsylvania). As I mentioned above, the new Beijing-Tianjin line, with a top speed of 350 km/hr, is the fastest in the world. And the new subways are leaping ahead of the U.S. too.

(…) In the building sector, change is happening slowly in China, but probably faster and bigger than anywhere else. (…) If it seems too slow, that’s because building green is actually not “so easy” anywhere.

(…) What isn’t low is China’s desire to save money, from the top down. That helps explain why (though Rawsthorn again misses this) China relies so heavily on compact florescent bulbs and uses more solar hot water heaters than any country on Earth.

(…)  Solar energy is a booming industry in China, which is also home to one of the world’s most successful and famous photovoltaic companies, Suntech. It makes us wonder if China will get most of our green collar jobs before we do.

(…) Recognizing local governments’ determination to raise GDP at any cost, in recent years, the Ministry of Environmental Protection has smartly turned environmental protection into an economic issue.

(…) Then there are widespread campaigns like those against plastic bags, which seem to be having a positive impact, even if such law aren’t powerfully enforced.

To conclude I would like to quote a blog I discovered last week, called the Green Leap Forward :

China’s position is clear. (note : on climate change mitigation negotiation) It wants developed countries to take the lead in curbing emissions and aiding developing countries to meet their low carbon aspirations by providing funding and technology.

To read the full article, please click here.

All these four articles make me wonder which side will win. Will China move big and fast on its climate and energy issue as it did on population ? Or will the local government fail to act ? Nothing is certain.

In any case, be sure I will keep you updated. So for this and for much more, stay tuned !


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