In response to the December 7th through 18th Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, The Heritage Foundation is launching a video series to cover all the details and aspects of the climate summit. We’ll address all the angles (climate, energy, national security, sovereignty, trade, and more) and provide you with everything you need to know about Copenhagen.
Yesterday, Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Ben Lieberman discussed how the Byrd-Hagel Resolution should guide U.S. criteria for an international climate treaty. Up next is Derek Scissors, Heritage Research Fellow in Asia Economic Policy in the Asian Studies Center, discussing China’s role at Copenhagen. Read his paper, 10 Things About China and Climate Change, here.
China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that Chinese emissions will rise nine times faster than America’s emissions through 2030. The Chinese State Council said it would cut the country’s carbon intensity, which is “carbon emissions relative to the size of its economy,” 45 percent by 2020, but that will not get China further than the country’s business as usual case. There are a number of reasons not to buy into China’s rhetoric:
• Despite many attempts to sell China as the front-runner in green energy because of heavy investments in wind and solar, Scissors asserts that “Diversification from coal has failed and will continue to fail. Coal now provides 70 percent of the PRC’s energy and almost 80 percent of its electricity, with both figures higher than they were a decade ago. These shares may barely shift for decades to come.”
• China prefers to measure carbon emissions relative to the size of its economy, mostly because it is less verifiable than a pure emissions target. Since carbon intensity is measured in relation to gross domestic product and Chinese statistics are often altered or censored, it will be easier for China to “meet” its goals.
• China also has more pressing environmental issues than reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Water shortage and contamination are a huge problem, with many bodies of water not even being suitable for human contact or even irrigation. The country faces real air pollution problems, as many witnessed at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. The United States should be realistic when dealing with China and carbon emissions, and it should see through the country’s dog and pony show.