in producing greenhouse gases, that is. China is definitely #1:
China has now clearly overtaken the United States as the world’s leading emitter of climate-warming gases, a new study has found. The increasing emissions from China – up 8 percent in the past year – accounted for two-thirds of the growth in global greenhouse gas emissions in 2007, the study found.
The report, released Friday by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, is an annual study. Last year, for the first time, the researchers found that China had edged ahead of the United States as the world’s leading emitter.
But the results were not so clear-cut as those released Friday, and many experts were skeptical of last year’s finding. The International Energy Agency continued to say only that China was projected to overtake the United States by the end of 2007.
“The difference had grown to a 14 percent difference, and that’s indeed quite large,” said Jos Olivier, a senior scientist at the Dutch agency. “It’s now so large that it’s quite a robust conclusion.”
Worse, China’s emissions are likely to continue growing substantially for years to come because they are tied to the country’s strong economic growth and its particular mix of industry and power sources, the researchers said.
I have a number of random thoughts on this. Everything I’ll say below is supported with facts you can find in my previous posts on this subject here.
First, this should prove definitely to anyone whose actual intent isn’t just to hobble the United States that if as a species we’re going to get some control over the amount of greenhouse gases we’re producing, China can’t be exempted from whatever plans we make. Note, too, that a big reason the U. S. didn’t sign the Kyoto Accord was that China was exempted.
Second, not only is China producing more greenhouse gases than they were a year ago, for every dollar of additional GDP they produce they’re producing proportionally more than they did for the dollar before it.
Third, China’s rate of increase is such that, if there’s an impending disaster, the disaster will occur before China becomes rich enough that it’s people will demand a better environment for themselves.
Fourth, the U. S., which did not sign the Kyoto Accord, reduced its emissions more than lots of nations that did sign the Accord.
Fifth, the 2% by which Europe, generally, reduced its emissions is more than explained by the degree to which manufacturing has moved to China.
I dont believe that China has the societal infrastructure (things like attitudes, practices, legal infrastructure, and so on) to deal with the problem. That means that, when we export manufacturing to China, a problem that would be difficult and painful to handle here becomes intractable over there. It’s a lousy way to reduce European and American emissions.