Global News: China Says Following U.S. Emissions Path Would Be “Disaster for the World” — Uhh, Too Late, Guys?

Other big global stories: Climate Change May be Spiking Mercury in Yukon’s Rivers; Delhi Faces High Risk from Global Warming; Small Island States Desperately Call for Climate Action

China CO2 emission in millions of metric tons from 1980 to 2009

China ‘won’t follow US’ on carbon emissions

China will not allow its carbon dioxide emissions per person to reach levels seen in the US, according to the minister in charge of climate policy.

Xie Zhenhua, vice chair of the National Development and Reform Commission, said that to let emissions rise that high would be a “disaster for the world”.

Chinese per-capita emissions may reach US levels by 2017, a recent study said.

JR:  I don’t see how China’s per-capita emissions hit ours in 6 years.  Maybe in the 2020s if they don’t reverse trends this decades.  But that misses the point: China’s  total emissions are 40% higher than ours and  will probably be double ours by 2020 — and that by itself would be a disaster for the world.


Mr Xie was speaking during a visit to the UK that explored co-operation on clean energy and climate issues.

It included signing a Memorandum of Understanding with UK Energy and Climate Secretary Chris Huhne on areas for joint research.

An analysis reached last month by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) put China’s annual emissions at 6.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide per person, compared to the US figure of 16.9 tonnes – although other analyses put the US figure higher, around 20 tonnes.

But the Chinese number has tripled since 1990, says the JRC – and could rise to US levels within six years.

JR:  Again, I don’t see how that is possible.  But it confuses the more important point.  China’s  current pace of coal plant construction is already  helping to drive the planet toward  catastrophe (with  the help of U.S. denial and  intransigence).

Climate Change May be Spiking Mercury in Yukon’s Rivers

The massive Yukon River Basin has mercury levels vastly higher than many other comparable river bodies, the U.S. Geological Survey said this week, with release from thawing permafrost singled out as the prime suspected reason.

A five-year sampling shows the basin, which is roughly twice the size of California, has mercury levels 32 times that of some other rivers included in the study, published this week in the journal Environmental Science and Technology….

“We have several hypotheses about (the cause) and one of them is the thawing permafrost . . . which is in direct response to a warming climate,” said Paul Schuster, a hydrologist with the USGS national research program.

“Our data sets don’t tie (mercury and climate change) together, but they do suggest it.”

The researchers took samples from the region between 2000 and 2005, and measured total mercury, which includes dissolved mercury and particulate mercury as well as the element’s other forms, such as the more harmful methylmercury, which can get into tissue.


House Writes a Bill to Excuse U.S. Carriers

One of the stranger bills to be considered by Congress passed by a voice vote on Monday evening. Officially named the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011, it essentially tells American airline carriers that it is illegal for them to participate in the European Union’s cap and trade system, which charges companies for producing emissions beyond their allotted limit.

Beginning Jan. 1, all flights landing at European Union airports will in theory incur a penalty if they produce excessive emissions. American carriers, airlines, with a good measure of support from the Obama administration, have been campaigning to be exempted from the rules. House Bill 2594, sponsored by Representative John Mica, Republican of Florida, is another salvo in that effort.

The European Commission will go forward with its plan to include all airlines, said Isaac Valero-Ladron, the European Union’s spokesman for climate action. “‘We are confident that the U.S. will respect European law, as E.U. always respects U.S. law,” Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s commissioner for climate action, tweeted just after the vote.

Delhi faces high risk from global warming – study

Rapidly growing megacities in Africa and Asia face the highest risks from rising sea levels, floods and other climate change impacts, says a global survey aimed at guiding city planners and investors.

The study by risk analysis and mapping firm Maplecroft, released on Wednesday, comes as the United Nations says the world’s population will hit seven billion next week and as huge floods inundate areas of Thailand and the capital Bangkok.

The survey ranks nearly 200 nations in terms of vulnerability to climate change over the medium term.

Haiti is the country most at risk from climate change, while Iceland is the least vulnerable. Thailand is ranked 37th.

Commonwealth small island states call for climate action

African, Caribbean and South Pacific states on Tuesday said big greenhouse gas emitters China and the United States were dragging their feet on tackling climate change and urged a Commonwealth leaders summit this week to call for urgent action at global climate talks in November.

“The scientific evidence available to us says we ought to act now,” said Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi after a meeting of 48 small island and developing nations in Perth.

Global warming is set to be a focus for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), ahead of a major U.N. climate change conference in South Africa from Nov. 28.

Many Commonwealth members are developing nations that are vulnerable to a predicted increase in more extreme droughts, floods, rising sea levels and spread of infectious diseases.

Australia, which is hosting CHOGM, said the very existence of some small nations depended on the world avoiding average global warming by two degrees Celsius.

“If we fail to do so we can kiss goodbye to some small island states,” said Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd.

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22 Responses to Global News: China Says Following U.S. Emissions Path Would Be “Disaster for the World” — Uhh, Too Late, Guys?

  1. Bo says:

    Regarding the emissions from China, you seem to forget that a substantial amount of these emissions are driven by the production of goods sold to USA (and EU). Thus, the emissions may originate from China, but the root cause may be our craving for cheap stuff….
    Peters, G. P., Minx, J. C., Weber, C. L., & Edenhofer, O. (2011). Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(21), 8903–8908. doi:10.1073/pnas.1006388108

  2. China will not allow its carbon dioxide emissions per person to reach levels seen in the US, according to the minister in charge of climate policy.

    Trying to game evaluation metrics is the hallmark of the fact-independent politico. If Canada’s Harper administration can do it, why can’t China… :-)

    Beginning Jan. 1, all flights landing at European Union airports will in theory incur a penalty if they produce excessive emissions. American carriers, airlines, with a good measure of support from the Obama administration, have been campaigning to be exempted from the rules.

    I think it’ll be interesting if both the US and the EU attempt to enforce their regulations simultaneously. Then, in order to comply with both sets of regulations, the airline carriers can simply refuse to land at the EU. (“We are John Galt!”…)

    — frank

  3. fj says:

    re: China ‘won’t follow US’ on carbon emissions

    kind of suspect that it’s in china’s & the world’s best interest to move to zero or near-zero per capita emissions.

    the know-how alone will develop local high-value skills and technologies and major economic and quality-of-life enhancements perhaps best described as the eden effect:

    very low cost of living with a very high quality of life.

  4. Sasparilla says:

    Its hard to know what to do with this Chinese comment. This is definitely an instance of the Pot calling the Kettle black, although at least the Chinese are moving forward with Green energy in massive amounts.

    That said, its good to see a big world stage player publicly castigating the United States on emissions (and how its not doing anything about them) – cause someone sure needs to.

    Another angle to this is that its publicly setting the United States up to take the major blame for destroying civilization when the temps finally go to high to be stopped.

  5. Joe Romm says:

    It’s both. I’ve blogged on that many times.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    In the eyes of much of the world, China is America’s evil twin. Both countries are economic and technological powerhouses, and both are ruled by rather stupid oligarchies.

    China recently signed an $80 billion 20 year coal import agreement with Australia, indicating that they have no intention of doing anything serious about global warming. The United States elite finds idiotic journalists to write about the joys of fracking, and who show their “seriousness” by saying that it will take about 30 years to transition to clean energy.

    History has shown that oligarchies become self referential, and continue to be joined at the hip to their cash sources. In China’s case, it’s coal mining and export industries. In the US, it’s fossil fuels and banks. These economic power bases have little direct relationships with scientific knowledge or intellectual attainment, and are spiritually barren. Their leaders’ egos have become swollen with ever increasing wealth, and the increasing subconscious guilt and misery leads that wealth to become embedded in their every decision.

    The only path is to expose, humiliate, and defeat them, through peaceful means. People like Koch and Chinese coal barons are not going to change. They are only screwing themselves, since their descendants will live dangerous, miserable lives.

  7. Paul Magnus says:

    Do we know how chinas emissions are proportioned in this respect?

  8. Sasparilla says:

    Shell doubles third-quarter profits as tar sands oil production increases

    Those two pipelines that the Obama Administration approved in 2009 (Keystone 1 and Alberta Clipper) now at work for our future…

  9. Paul Magnus says:

    I think that is an affirmative already…. US being majorly responsible for GW. And also not doing anything about it.

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    The Italian floods …..
    Officials said a downpour of 50cm (19.68 inches) of rain had fallen throughout the course of 24 hours.

    Read more:

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    Ghanaian officials say these are the worst rains ever, forcing schools and businesses to close.
    Several people have been rendered homeless and property worth thousands of dollars destroyed following five hours of heavy rain that swept through southern Ghana on Tuesday night.

  12. Colorado Bob says:

    Jon Stewart Rips Media For Ignoring ‘Climategate’ Debunking, Covering McRib Instead (VIDEO)

  13. Joan Savage says:

    Regarding the mercury in the Yukon, the Vancouver Sun article closed with a quote from Paul Schuster (USGS).

    “Thawing permafrost is a natural source of mercury and it’s on a different time scale — that’s been forming for 10,000 years since the last ice age,” Schuster said. “As far as the Eurasian hypothesis goes, that’s within the last 100 years and that’s a man-made source.”
    Read more:

    What that understates is the potential combination of the two. Mercury from recent atmospheric deposition from coal-fired power plants might have stayed in the permafrost along with the older mercury deposits, if the permafrost wasn’t melting.

  14. Lou Grinzo says:

    China’s planned build-out of coal- and NG-fired electricity is terrifying.

    The IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2010 (no public link to doc) says:

    [Page 232] “Electricity demand in China rises briskly in the New Policies Scenario, at an annual rate of 7.7% through 2015, and then averages 2.8% per year over the remainder of the Outlook period as the pace of economic growth slows and electricity use becomes more efficient. Overall, demand is projected to triple between 2008 and 2035, with China overtaking the United States in 2012 as the largest global consumer of electricity. Nonetheless, per-capita electricity consumption in China rises to only 65% of the average in OECD countries by 2035. Coal remains the cornerstone of the electricity mix during the Outlook period, although its share of generation drops from 79% in 2008 to 55% in 2035. Annual coal-fired electricity generation increases 2 500 TWh between 2008 and 2035, with almost 60% of the rise occurring by 2015 (Figure 7.14d). By 2035, gas-fired generation increases 20 times over current levels, supplying 9% of total electricity generation.

    The capacity additions required to meet China’s electricity needs over the period 2009-2035 are staggering: between 2009 and 2025 China will have added new capacity equivalent to the current installed capacity of the United States (Figure 7.13). A total of $2.2 trillion in investment will be necessary to build new plants over the Outlook period, with about half required between 2010 and 2020. Of total investment in new plants from 2010 to 2035, 62% goes to renewable energy (including hydro), 20% to coal-fired facilities and 14% to nuclear power. Although the CO2 intensity of power generation declines by 38% over the Outlook period, overall CO2 emissions from the power sector increase from 3.1 Gt in 2008 to 5.1 Gt by 2035.”

    Yes, lots of numbers to slice and dice there, and I can’t tell if it supports or refutes the idea of China matching the US’ carbon intensity level in a mere six years.

    To contextualize that 5.1 Gt figure for China’s electricity emissions, the EIA’s (not IEA) Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the US report says that in 2009 US CO2 emissions from all fuels and all economy sectors was 5.4 billion tons (Table 1).

    If you have access to the IEA report (which will be replaced by the 2011 edition in a couple of weeks), the graphs related to China’s emissions are even more unsettling than the text.

    China simply cannot do what the IEA describes or we’re on the express train to hell and high water.

  15. Paul Magnus says:

    Here some useful info….

    Groundbreaking data tracks carbon emissions back to their source
    A new scientific paper allows us to see which countries extracted the fossil fuels burned to support lifestyles in other countries

  16. Joan Savage says:

    I guess it’s obvious, though it is also wishful thinking, that those of us in the US could lower per capita carbon dioxide emissions to say between 6 and 7 tons (like Sweden or Switzerland) in the next few years, and hold China to the idea that they’d never surpass US emissions. I take it as an obvious inference of Mr. Xie’s remarks, that if we do it, they can.

    I’m still not at all certain that everyone is on the same page in calculating per capita emissions, whether it is the individualistic measure of what one person pays for on their own, or if it is a fraction of a country’s entire emissions, divided by population. Some carbon footprint calculators take the individualistic route and don’t count the carbon dioxide emissions that are more shared, like imported goods, trucking, road construction and the like.

  17. Kundan Kumar says:

    India is also going full steam ahead with a coal based power generation – right now more than 500,000 MW worth of coal power projects are in the process of permitting. There is an increasing resistance to this, primarily on local pollution grounds, amongst civil society actors. See this
    and this

  18. Colorado Bob says:

    1006 PM EDT WED OCT 26 2011


    RECORD FROM 1990 WAS 57.58 INCHES.


  19. David Stern says:

    China is expected to announce a cap on emissions some time soon. I heard speculation that it would be at Durban. It was discussed earlier this year in the lead up to the announcement of the current 5 year plan but wasn’t included. But the plan can be modified. Some Swiss guy told me that China was already at the same per capita level as Switzerland. I was skeptical but it turns out that that is correct. Switzerland has particularly low emissions for a developed country – about 1/3 of US and Australian levels.

  20. Mossy says:

    Hmmm… Bonehead — sorry, Boehner’s district. The Gods are trying to tell him something!

    Governor Kassich wants to allow drilling in all the state parks. (Oh well, according to a recent speech by Robert Kennedy, Jr., in Cleveland, all the fresh water fish in OH are contaminated anyway.) Kassich also is working on extracting coal in southeastern OH.

    Cincinnati, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Australia profits hugely from exporting coal to the world, while the best that the Dullard regime can offer (while stating that coal will be mined for ‘generations’) is a 5% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020. Even that risible ‘target’ is fiercely opposed by the Leader of the Opposition Liberal Party, the denialist (although he denies that, too) Tony Abbott. His party is replete with other denialists, often of the Dunning-Kruger type who can know no better, while others are opportunistic cynics who know the truth but crave political power. Where ‘Liberal’ Party regimes have achieved power in the states in recent years, the sheer zealotry of their anti-environmental actions puts one in mind of your estimable Tea Party fanatics. Naturally, before their elections, these anti-Green fundamentalists posed as ‘caring, sharing’ friends of Nature.