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10 China Myths for the New Decade- Myth #9: greenhouse gas emissions

Posted by Author on February 7, 2010

Derek Scissors, Ph.D., Research Fellow in Asia Economic Policy in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, via http://www.heritage.org, January 28, 2010 –

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Myth #9: China’s greenhouse gas emissions are about the same as America’s.

Truth: China’s emissions are as much as 25 percent larger, and the gap is widening every day.

The effort to limit greenhouse-gas emissions is not usually thought of as a topic when discussing the Chinese economy, but it should be. By itself, the PRC is set to generate the majority of the world’s carbon emissions over the next decade.[20] In contrast, China’s population will fall below 20 percent of the world total. The emissions story is about China’s development model, not size.

In 2006, most monitoring agencies put American and Chinese emissions at roughly equal levels. Three years, however, is a great deal in Chinese industry time. A very conservative estimate puts Chinese emissions growing by 10 percent more than America’s in 2007 and the first half of 2008, before the financial shock hit.

In the nearly 18 months since, the PRC’s extremely aggressive stimulus and orientation toward heavy industry almost surely mean its emissions growthhas remained rapid. Coal production is still expanding between 12 percent and 13 percent annually. The industries most cited by the central government as overinvested and expanding too fast– steel, cement, and aluminum–are major greenhouse-gas emitters.[21] As a result, it is entirely possible that 2009 Chinese emissions were 25 percent larger than U.S. emissions.

All the unanswered questions about Chinese economic data apply to the environment as well. Chinese GDP is likely underestimated; so is energy use and pollution. Government monitoring is skewed by limited funding and political motives. There have been repeated failures to keep unsafe coal mines and outdated steel plants closed, and their output is often ignored because they should have been shut down. The true quantity of Chinese greenhouse emissions is uncertain. (to be cont’d)

Original from The Heritage Foundation

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