Friday, April 27, 2007
The Chinese Emissions Myth
Now that it's become somewhat laughable to deny the reality of global warming, the excuse of choice for doing nothing to limit greenhouse gas emissions has become China. As in, If we enact costly environmental standards while the Chinese do nothing, we'll be putting ourselves at an even greater competitive disadvantage for global trade. Only trouble is, China's actually engaged in a pretty ambitious energy modernization and efficiency program:
But new evidence suggests that, despite a fast-growing economy that could make it the world's largest carbon-dioxide emitter as early as this year, China may be getting on board. In a bid to cut energy costs, boost energy security, and reduce air pollution, it could be essentially creating the largest greenhouse-gas-reduction plan on the planet.
Indeed, if the nation's leaders follow through, it may be the US playing catch-up with China – not the other way around.
There are still some wrinkles that need to be ironed out, like actually meeting the goals they've set (energy efficiency climbed only 1.2% last year instead of the 4% called for) and reducing their dependency on coal-fired electric plants. But the new plan, which aims to increase energy efficiency nationwide by 20%, could eliminate 1.4 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2010. By comparison, the US is only expected to eliminate roughly 185 million tons by the same date. What's more, all of the reductions are self-imposed, although China and Japan have recently agreed to develop a successor to the Kyoto Treaty.
So next time you hear someone say that when it comes to emissions reductions, we should only do as much as the Chinese, remember: They're probably right.