China Changes its Tune (a little)

In its first ever policy paper on climate change, China has admitted that its carbon emissions are now equal to those of the United States. (Well, they are actually a little more, but let’s not quibble).

Beijing now acknowledged the environmental problem. “Extreme climate phenomena, such as high temperatures, heavy precipitation and severe droughts, have increased in frequency and intensity,” the paper says.

Unfortunately China is unlikely to take any real action in the near future because lifting people out of poverty remains the top priority. China depends on coal, and “the coal-dominated energy mix cannot be substantially changed in the near future.”

Looking ahead, China would consider switching to alternative energy, but only if developed countries help out. China’s top climate change negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, said Beijing would consider limits on its worst polluting industries if rich nations handed over the technology to help clean them up. Developed nations should commit 0.7 per cent of their GDP to helping developing countries fight climate change, he says.

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