Chinablogging--China Overtakes US As World's Biggest CO2 Emitter
Al Gore arriving in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1:
China has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, figures released today show.And how are they achieving this astounding increase in CO2 output?
The surprising announcement will increase anxiety about China's growing role in driving man-made global warming and will pile pressure onto world politicians to agree a new global agreement on climate change that includes the booming Chinese economy. China's emissions had not been expected to overtake those from the US, formerly the world's biggest polluter, for several years, although some reports predicted it could happen as early as next year.
But according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, soaring demand for coal to generate electricity and a surge in cement production have helped to push China's recorded emissions for 2006 beyond those from the US already. It says China produced 6,200m tonnes of CO2 last year, compared with 5,800m tonnes from the US. Britain produced about 600m tonnes.
Jos Olivier, a senior scientist at the government agency who compiled the figures, said: "There will still be some uncertainty about the exact numbers, but this is the best and most up to date estimate available. China relies very heavily on coal and all of the recent trends show their emissions going up very quickly." China's emissions were 2% below those of the US in 2005. Per head of population, China's pollution remains relatively low - about a quarter of that in the US and half that of the UK.
China is building two power plants per week. 1000s of cars are added every month to Beijing's streets alone.
But who is to blame?
It is estimated that the average American still pollutes between five and six times more than the average Chinese person.
Climate sceptics in the UK have been asking why Britons should switch off lights, turn down central heating and avoid foreign flights in order to save carbon when the Chinese are increasing emissions at their current a rate.
"Responsibility for China's soaring emissions lies not just in Beijing but also in Washington, Brussels and Tokyo," said Greenpeace UK director John Sauven said.
"All we've done is export a great slice of the West's carbon footprint to China, and today we see the result.
"Let us not forget that the average Chinese emits just 3.5 tonnes of CO2 per year, whereas Britons emit nearly 10 tonnes and Americans 20 tonnes.
"The West moved its manufacturing base to China knowing it was vastly more polluting than Japan, Europe or the US," he added.
"No environmental conditions were attached to this move, in fact the only thing manufacturers were interested in was the price of labour.