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 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.