Take a look at this NCPA collection of sobering figures (drawn from the work of a physics professor at UCAL Berkeley) for an explanation.
- China’s emissions intensity (CO2 per dollar of GDP) is five times greater than that of the United States.
President Hu Jintao plans to reduce China’s CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 4 percent per year for 5 years. If carried on it would reduce China’s CO2 emissions intensity 70 percent by 2040. But even if it works:
- If China cuts its emissions intensity 45% it will still surpass the U.S. in per capita annual CO2 emissions by 2025.
- Indeed, every 10% cut in U.S. emissions would be negated by one year of China’s growth.
- Because China’s economy is growing by 10% p.a. a 4% cut in intensity is actually a 6% annual increase in emissions.
- CO2 emissions are increasing similarly in India and other developing countries – far surpassing rich countries’ output.
- Even if China and India’s goals are met – and other developing countries make similar cuts- total atmospheric CO2 would rise from 385 parts per million currently to 700 parts per million by 2080
The leaders of China and India can not risk constraining their growth, even if they were persuaded that they should give higher priority to CO2 emissions.
I did my own calculations a few weeks ago:
China said it will “endeavour” to cut the amount of carbon produced per unit of economic output by 40 to 45 percent by 2020 from 2005. The “carbon intensity” goal would let emissions keep rising, but more slowly than economic growth.
Now even putting aside the fact China won’t agree to any verification of their emissions (ie they can simply make up their figures), what does their pledge mean.
Let us assume that their business as usual case is that emissions will increase in line with economic growth.
Now their GDP in 2005 was US$2.24 trillion. In 2020 it is estimated to be around US14.6 trillion. That is a 640% increase in GDP.
Now if their emissions intensity is 40% less, then the increase in emissions will be 385%.
So China’s pledge is they will only increase emissions by 385% by 2020.
Now their level of emissions in 2006 was 6,103 million tons. So China’s projected increase in emissions is around 23,000 million tons. …
In fact China’s pledge to reduce intensity by 40% means their total level of emissions in 2020 could be as high as 33,000 million tons.
And you know what. That is more than the rest of the world produces today. The world, excluding China, produces 22,000 million tons. With China it is 28 million tons
So the entire world could go carbon neutral, and China would still push world emissions up 20% from 2006.
This is the reality the world faces. It does not matter what the USA does, what the EU does, even what India does. Global emissions are going to increase significantly, just from China alone.Tags: carbon emissions, Climate Change, Stephen Franks