Good news from China?

So, anyone know whether the IPCC’s predictions for China’s emissions increases are based on a linear correlation with anticipated economic growth?

I ask, because Business Day is reporting that China’s energy use has declined over the last year. (Yee-haa!) The response of the International Energy Agency and other “observers” has been to question the veracity of Chinese statistics. 

It’s not a very consistent or well-written article, so it’s perhaps best not to read too much into it, but the Chinese are apparently arguing that energy usage (or at least, growth in energy usage – the article contradicts itself on this point) is declining:

Overall, services accounted for 44.3% of China’s gross domestic product in the first quarter, up from 42.7% a year earlier. Meanwhile, output by energy-intensive industries such as metals smelting, petrochemicals, coking and steelmaking rose only 2.3%, while their electricity use fell 3.7%.

If Chinese energy use does actually decline or stabilise, this is potentially very good news: it means the impact of one of the world’s biggest economies on our global climate may be smaller than anticipated.

But China is perhaps given an unnecessarily hard rap over its position on climate change and sustainability. The New York Times reported, this last week, following the UK Guardian, that in July 2008, there was a confidential meeting between US and Chinese representatives exploring options and finding new ground for a pact on climate change. 

The talks included White House science adviser John Holdren and former Undersecretary of State Frank Loy:

Loy said what he did come away with was a much greater understanding and appreciation of China’s ambitious energy efficiency and renewable energy plans.

“I became persuaded that China really has made a decision internally to become or seek to become a low-carbon economy,” he said.

Which is more than can be said of most countries.

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About David

I am an environmental writer, journalist and speaker living in Cape Town, South Africa.
This entry was posted in Climate change, Renewable energy, Understanding economic growth. Bookmark the permalink.

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