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A couple of months ago at the disappointing Major Economies Forum in Italy, one of the bright spots was that the world's most polluting nations nonetheless agreed to keep the temperatures from rising an average of 2 degrees Celsius across the globe. Remember, a rise of much more than 2 degrees in world temp. is projected to usher in what can only be described as climate catastrophe. Now, China says even that goal is unrealistic--here's why.This is seriously bad news--keeping global temps from rising 2 degrees C is considered the minimum to prevent the worst of climate change. A rise of greater than 2 degrees means much more severe weather, sea levels that rise at an ever-quickening rate, population displacement, and droughts--and that's without taking into account the feedback cycles that will make things even worse from there.
Point is, a 2 degree rise is extremely bad news. But China says we can expect to see that happen. This is why. The Guardian reports:
"You should not target China to fulfill the two degree target. That is just a vision. Reality has deviated from that vision," said Dai (deputy chief of China's Energy Research institute). "We do not think that target provides room for developing countries." China argues that its priority must be economic growth to relieve poverty among its vast population.Dai's comments are getting a lot of press, especially since they question China's official goals for reducing emissions and switching to renewable energy. Dai says their renewable energy standard and emissions reductions estimates are simply too ambitious.
Under its most ambitious scenario, China's overall emissions would peak between 2030 and 2035, assuming generous financial assistance from rich nations, technological transfer, changed consumer habits, enormous investment in renewable energies and large-scale economic restructuring.And since that investment from richer nations is far from a sure bet, and the fact that coal remains a much cheaper source of energy, it's unlikely that China will slow its pollution enough to help prevent the 2 degree temperature rise. This is bad news, but it's probably accurate--China's renewable energy standard, while admirable always seemed too optimistic to me. And while rich nations may be able to negotiate with China to help cut some emissions growth from their fast-growing industries, it seems that even more of the cuts in carbon will have to come directly from wealthy countries than was anticipated.