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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

China makes moves on renewables « Previous | |Next »
June 11, 2009

China is still the world's biggest user of coal and the largest emitter of carbon. Neither of those two things look likely to change, Moreover Beijing has yet to accept any target for reducing carbon emissions and overall greenhouse emissions in China probably won't fall until at least 2020-30.

However, and this in marked contrast to Australia, China plans to ramp up wind and solar power, so that they meet 20% of its energy needs by 2020. There are reports that Beijing will spend up to $600bn on clean power over the next decade - or the equivalent of its entire military budget every year for each of the next 10 years.It is doing so for energy security reasons --to cut its dependence on dependence on foreign fuel supplies.

Despite the infusion of cash and government support for renewable sources of energy, China is expected to remain dependent on coal for about 70% of its energy needs for at least the next two decades, meaning it will remain the world's biggest emitter of CO2, a major greenhouse gas.So carbon capture better work, because China is not going to stop using coal.

Admittedly, this attempt by China to make the shift to a low carbon economy will cut little ice for the deniers in Australia. As Gavin Schmidt points out on RealClimate the denier's current mode of reasoning has indicated a tendency for the same nonsense, the same logical fallacies and the same confusions to be endlessly repeated; along with the recycling of talking points long thought to have been dead.

This video explores what underpins the denier's mode of reasoning:

It is a clear video description of the now-classic Dunning and Kruger papers on how the people who are most wrong are the least able to perceive it.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:15 AM | | Comments (6)
Comments

Comments

Climate change deniers hate computer models that test hundreds of different likely scenarios. Why, they say, should we base current policy on scenarios and computer programmes rather than observable facts?

The problem with this kind of appeal to empiricism is that you can't observe the future. If you reject the world's most sophisticated models as a means of forecasting likely climate trends, you must propose an alternative. Which is what?

Two questions I Just love to fire at those who use Chinese growth as an excuse for OUR inaction...

1. How long has China been a major CO2 producer?

2. What about it's output of CO2 per capita?

Valid questions, I reckon.

marso8
they are good questions indeed. China is deeply committed to economic development, but as Paul Krugman points out China cannot continue along its current path because the planet can’t handle the strain.

China’s emissions, which come largely from its coal-burning electricity plants, doubled between 1996 and 2006. That was a much faster pace of growth than in the previous decade. And the trend seems set to continue: In January, China announced that it plans to continue its reliance on coal as its main energy source and that to feed its economic growth it will increase coal production 30 percent by 2015. That’s a decision that, all by itself, will swamp any emission reductions elsewhere.

China’s emissions, which come largely from its coal-burning electricity plants, doubled between 1996 and 2006. That was a much faster pace of growth than in the previous decade. And the trend seems set to continue: In January, China announced that it plans to continue its reliance on coal as its main energy source and that to feed its economic growth it will increase coal production 30 percent by 2015. That’s a decision that, all by itself, will swamp any emission reductions elsewhere.
So what is to be done about the China problem? Krugmam adds:

Each time I raised the issue during my visit, I was met with outraged declarations that it was unfair to expect China to limit its use of fossil fuels. After all, they declared, the West faced no similar constraints during its development; while China may be the world’s largest source of carbon-dioxide emissions, its per-capita emissions are still far below American levels; and anyway, the great bulk of the global warming that has already happened is due not to China but to the past carbon emissions of today’s wealthy nations.

He says that t is unfair to expect China to live within constraints that we didn’t have to face when our own economy was on its way up.

But that unfairness doesn’t change the fact that letting China match the West’s past profligacy would doom the Earth as we know it.

Tough question---so what is to be done about the China problem?

Yep... tough question. For ALL of us. But surely it's a bit unfair to call it "the China problem". Every developed (and rapidly developing) nation has added it's bit. Some have benefited more than others.

Personally, I don't believe that humanity has the wits or courage to sort this out in time. We're far too focused on guarding our own patch to see the big picture.

mars08
true---but, as Krugman points out, the climate-change consequences of Chinese production have to be taken into account somewhere in the global economic system.

If the Chinese continue to insist that they should not be held responsible for the greenhouse gases they emit when producing goods for foreign consumers, then sometime soon countries that refuse to limit their greenhouse gas emissions will face sanctions, probably in the form of taxes on their exports.

The same would happen to Australia's (mineral and gas) exports. Big Carbon will jump up and down at China imposing a carbon tax on their product, but who cares. Big Carbon have bought it on themselves.

I've no doubt that there will be attempts to address the climate-change consequences of Chinese production. But the scheme (whatever it will be) will end up costing us all... financially. And then we'll see how exactly serious the pollies (and voters)are about saving mankind.