The West will need to redouble their own efforts to cut emissions to offset Chinese growth in emissions.
The Chinese government is perfectly aware that many of the cost of climate change will fall on China itself. However, as with any developing country, growth, poverty reduction and political stability take priority.
Whilst China should be included in any multilateral discussions of emission reductions the West would be wise to allow China the leyway it requires.
China's First Plan on Climate Change: Poverty first
China puts economy before climate [BBC]
China to enact national action plan on climate change [Official Chinese government website]
China's climate change plan due ahead of G8 summit
China to enact first plan on climate change
Key Facts on China and Climate Change (from PlanetArk).
CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS:
- China says global warming poses a serious threat through rising sea levels, worsening droughts in some regions, more unstable rain patterns in others, and melting glaciers.
- By 2020, annual mean temperatures could increase by 1.3 to 2.1 degrees Celsius from 2000, and by 2050 the rise could be 2.3 to 3.3 degrees.
- If adaptive steps are not taken, global warming could cut nationwide crop production by up to 10 percent by 2030. Wheat, rice and corn growing capacity could fall by up to 37 percent in the second half of the century.
TOTAL EMISSIONS ARE HIGH, PER-CAPITA EMISSIONS ARE LOW:
- China's rapid economic growth and huge population of more than 1.3 billion have made it the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after the United States.
- The International Energy Agency has said China could emerge as the top emitter of the main greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, as early as this year, a claim disputed by Chinese officials.
- China's plan says that between 1994 and 2004, China's greenhouse gas emissions grew by an average 4 percent a year.
- Its average per-capita emissions from burning fossil fuels in 2004 were 3.65 tonnes of carbon dioxide, just 33 percent of the average for member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
- In 2002 China ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which governs international climate change and greenhouse gas obligations.
- As a developing country, China is excluded from the current phase of emission cuts in the protocol, but other countries may demand it accept some targets when the next phase of cuts from 2013 are negotiated in coming years.
- China joined the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate in 2005. The group, made up of the United States, Australia, India, South Korea, Japan and China, aims to use technology to reduce emissions.
- In 2005, China depended on coal, the most carbon-dioxide heavy of the fossil fuels, for 68.9 percent of its primary energy consumption, the plan says, and consumption of oil is climbing as vehicle ownership and industry boom.
- China's plan proposes expanding nuclear power and clean energy sources to weaken dependence on fossil fuels, as well as upgrading to cleaner coal-fired power stations.
- It also aims to expand forests to soak up more carbon dioxide and developing new crop strains to withstand long dry periods.
- China's previously released National Climate Change Assessment proposes by 2020 nearly halving from 2000 levels the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to produce each unit of gross domestic product (GDP), but it states emissions per person are likely to top projected developed-nation levels before starting to fall.
- China has vowed to cut the energy used to generate each unit of GDP by 20 percent of 2005 levels by 2010. (Sources: China National Climate Change Assessment; China's National Climate Change Programme; Reuters)