Wednesday, February 07, 2007

China balking on its green house gas emissions

Today, the Foreign ministry of China stated that wealthier developed countries must take the lead in curbing greenhouse gas emissions. They further refused to commit to any mandatory emissions limits because they might hamper its booming economy. The article is here in the NYT and may require registration.

Currently China is the world’s second largest emitter of of carbon dioxide, trailing only the United States. The International Energy Agency in Paris predicted that Chinese emissions of carbon dioxide , would pass those of the United States before the end of this decade. China currently derives nearly 70 percent of its energy from coal-fired power plants, with little or no pollution controls. See this posting from KTCat for examples of the Kodachrome colored environmental disaster that is on the rise in China.

China argues that as a developing nation, it does not have the financial resources to shift to cleaner, i.e more expensive, technology and therefore should be exempt from any emissions limits.

While this might sound reasonable at first it should be placed in the context of China's decision to fund a space program. The chief of the China's Meteorological Administration, told Reuters that [a]s a developing country that’s growing rapidly and has a big population, to thoroughly transform the energy structure and use clean energy would need a lot of money. Yet the Chinese government currently funds the development of anti-satellite weapons and an ambitious lunar exploration program. They also fund a military with a sizable nuclear deterrent. So it really isn't an issue of not having the money. Rather an issue of priorities. No country that plans on sending a person to the moon can claim to be developing and needs to live up to its responsibilities.


K T Cat said...

Great stuff. I've got a follow up in mind, but it might be tomorrow before it gets posted.

Dr. Zaius said...

That is an excellent overview of the situation. This part though, "No country that plans on sending a person to the moon can claim to be developing and needs to live up to its responsibilities." I would agree with the sentiment, but China has a good (albeit false) argument against this. Why should they do what we won't? It makes me think of this Aesop's fable:

A crab said to her son, "Why do you walk so one-sided, my child? It is far more becoming to go straight forward." The young Crab replied: "Quite true, dear Mother; and if you will show me the straight way, I will promise to walk in it." The Mother tried in vain, and submitted without remonstrance to the reproof of her child. Example is more powerful than precept.