Meanwhile, the world’s most populous nation becomes the largest contributor to climate change as China emitted 14 percent more greenhouse gases than the United States.
This is a serious problem as if no drastic actions were taken by the Beijing government and its Washington counterpart, the situation could only worsen.
According to the AFP :
China’s carbon dioxide emissions in 2007 were about 14 percent higher than the United States and accounted for two-thirds of the global rise, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) said Friday.
With an eight percent national increase, China’s carbon dioxide emissions contributed the bulk of last year’s 3.1 percent global rise in CO2 emissions, according to a statement released on the last day of a United Nations conference on climate change in Bonn, Germany.
“With this, China tops the list of CO2 emitting countries, having about a quarter share in global CO2 emissions (24 percent),” it said.
The United States was second with 21 percent, while the European Union was at 12 percent, India eight percent and Russia six percent, said the statement.
Cement clinker production was a major cause of the emissions, and with an increase of 10 percent in 2007 China now accounted for about 51 percent of global cement production, said the PBL.
“After the earthquake which recently hit the Sichuan province, it may be expected that the rebuilding of houses and roads for over five million people will cause the cement demand to soar even further,” it said.
Warmer winter weather and high fuel prices contributed to a two percent drop in CO2 emissions in Europe last year, it added.
But in the US, a cold winter and warm summer contributed to rising carbon emissions from heating and cooling functions. Overall in the US last year, CO2 emissions rose by 1.8 percent.
(…) The US topped the list of C02 emissions per person measured in metric tonnes with 19.4, followed by Russia with 11.8, the EU with 8.6, China with 5.1 and India with 1.8.
It also makes me wish that China will be included in mitigating climate change efforts of the successor of the Kyoto Protocol that is due to come into action in 2012.
On this, the International Herald Tribune provides interesting information :
“With a little more than a year to go to Copenhagen (note : due to prepare the successor of Kyoto), the challenge to come to that agreement remains daunting,” said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
(…) “Everyone recognizes that we’re only going to get to an answer by addressing issues in all countries, including China,” de Boer said by phone.
Still he added that China has been “acting progressively on environmental policy” in the past year, developing plans to shut down highly polluting small and midsize industries and for more alternative energy, for example.
(…) “There cannot be a solution to the global climate change questions without China being integrally involved,” Schell said. But he added that Chinese leaders would not become more engaged on climate change unless the United States also made new commitments.
“This will be one of the new challenges of the new U.S. president,” he said.
The Dutch researchers cautioned that there were some signs that China’s emissions trajectory would be somewhat blunted this year, although growth would still be rapid. Its emissions rose 8 percent in 2007, compared to more than 11 percent annually for the previous two years.
(…) But with high oil and natural gas prices this year, other forces favor emissions growth in the future. High oil prices have created a resurgence in interest in coal-fired power plants for industry, which are far more polluting than other variants.
About 80 percent of the world’s coal demand comes from China, according to the International Energy Agency. But the United States is also a major user of coal to power its industry.
“It is crucial for countries like China and the United States to explore technologies to deal with that,” de Boer said, referring specifically to projects that would pump emissions underground instead of into the atmosphere.
As you can see part of the willingness of the Chinese government to tackle climate change will depend partly on the actions of the future US government on this matter.
To exemplify how China may start decreasing its carbon dioxide emissions, I am preparing an article with the data I collected recently. So, for this and for much more, stay tuned !