Sunday, June 24, 2007


...more fossil fuel than the US. Now their co2 emissions are the largest of any country on the planet.

At the start of June China announced their first climate policy. They did of course warn that "developed powers bear the most blame for the climate crisis" and it won't "sacrifice economic growth".

China's relentlessly strong economic growth is of course fuelled by coal, and to a lesser extent by hydro projects.

Burning more coal to generate more electricity has China in a ridiculous Russian doll situation. Greater energy demand requires more generating plants which require masses of concrete which itself requires a hugely energy intensive manufacturing process. China produces 44% of the worlds cement and its production contributes 9% of their co2 emissions.

It's not all bad. For "us" that is. Chinese emissions per capita are crazy-low, and they tend to do a lot of our dirty work.

In anticipating the emission topping antics, Reuters pointed out in March that "much of the growth in China's emissions is to produce goods consumed in the West, raising ethical questions over who bears responsibility for those emissions."

And lucky-for-us, as a centrally planned system, the Chinese are "willing" to self-inflict hardship in order to improve. For example energy police will soon patrol big buildings to ensure aircon is set to a bit nippy in winter and bloody stuffy in summer.

According to the quite brilliant SEED magazine, China is also embarking on a green revolution. "The litany of environmental challenges that China faces is shocking." The onslaught from dead rivers and dustbowl deserts has prompted a pro environment response of mind boggling proportions.

:: Seventy percent of China's energy comes from coal, but by 2020 they want to double renewable energy generation to 15%.
:: 35 million solar water heating units have been or will soon be installed.
:: In Beijing the authorities took "26,000 heavily polluting minibuses off the road in a week... They cut the pollution by 6 percent".
:: The 2008 Olympic village will feature a $4.7 million solar energy system to provide heat and hot water to 16,000 people.

If Chinese leaders continue this way, it seems the economic wonderkid may not become an environmental basket case.

We have the choice of grimacing at the fact that China rules the world, or of contributing and learning from their need to clean up. There may just be a bob or two in the latter.

1 comment:

Tony said...

Don't forget also that in terms of accumulated CO2, China is responsible for only about 8% of the global total, compared to the US, on about 29%.