China Announces Emissions Reduction Targets (But They're Not Really Reductions)


Well, everyone has their cards on the table now. Following the US's announcement yesterday that it will bring an emissions reductions target "in the range" of 17 percent of 2005 levels to Copenhagen, China has announced its own commitment: a 40-45 percent reduction of 2005 levels in what it calls "carbon intensity." The pledge is being met with tepid acceptance. So, what does "energy intensity" mean? It means China will reduce emissions relative to its GDP growth, meaning that its emissions will actually increase over time because its economy is expanding so rapidly. As the world's Number 1 Polluter (but far down when it comes to per capita emissions), China's goal is not enough.

What do the Europeans think? From today's NYT:

In Brussels, the European Commission on Thursday welcomed "the valuable steps China is taking to tackle climate change, and the leadership China is bringing to this negotiation." But, the commission, the European Union's executive body, said, "It will be disappointing to some that China does not go beyond business as usual."

The commission was equally circumspect about President Obama's comments on Wednesday. "On the United States offer, there are a number of positive elements," the commission said. But his proposal was "lower than we would like," the statement said, and " will be disappointing to some.".

The commission also pressed the Americans to come forward with an offer of money to help developing nations tackle climate change. Yvo de Boer, the United Nations climate chief, said earlier this week that developed parts of the world like the United States and the European Union should contribute around $10 billion annually from 2010 to 2012


It should be noted, however, that China is making massive investments in renewable energy and increasing its standards for efficiency. Check out the Breakthrough Institute's latest report, "Rising Tigers, Sleeping Giant: Asian Nations Set to Dominate Clean Energy Race by Out-Investing the United States," to see where China is putting its money.

More on China:
Building a Green China
China Has A Plan For Climate Change

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