Chinese CO2 Emissions Surge

Published January 1, 2004

Contrary to earlier reports that China has been reducing its coal consumption, the New York Times reported on October 22, “China’s rapid economic growth is producing a surge in emissions of greenhouse gases that threatens international efforts to curb global warming, as Chinese power plants burn ever more coal while car sales soar.”

The previous reports had taken Chinese official statistics at face value. A closer examination of the facts confirms, according to the Times, “what energy industry executives had suspected: that coal use has actually been climbing faster in China than practically anywhere else in the world.”

The paper quoted the International Energy Agency as reporting, “The increase in greenhouse gas emissions from 2000 to 2030 in China alone will nearly equal the increase in the entire industrialized world.”

Despite its large coal reserves, the Times reports, China has begun to import coal from Australia to accommodate its growing coal use. China also has become the world’s fastest-growing importer of oil.

China is already the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. The nation’s increasing consumption of coal and oil promise to further accelerate emissions growth.

Reports on surging greenhouse gas emissions in China underscore objections to the Kyoto Protocol voiced by the U.S., Russia, and Australia: that the Protocol will be ineffective so long as “developing” nations such as China and India are exempt from the treaty.

Said Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “Chinese officials have made it clear that, while they would like to see the protocol adopted, they will accept no restrictions on Chinese emissions now or in 50 years’ time.”

On November 10, Indian Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani stated at a climate change conference that India would under no circumstances accept restrictions on its greenhouse gas emissions.

Said Advani, “The existing equilibrium of commitments and differentiation between developed and developing nations has to be maintained.”

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News. His email address is [email protected].