Monday, July 14, 2008

China's Growth

Let us assume everyone gets serious about a fair share of carbon for an eventual (stable) population of 10 billion (in 2050) on a per capita basis. 450ppm is roughly stable at 3 gigatons of carbon per annum – so it is 3 tons per capita. Per capita carbon for China is roughly 1.3 tons. The mantra in China is the development of a “low carbon economy”. That comes down to increasing energy efficiency and deploying existing technology. At issue is how much if a change in China’s carbon footprint that buys you given the rate of growth in the economy. Modelers here are talking about stabilization of carbon output in 2030. But even if that is right, I am not (as yet) clear at what level – especially given a projected growth rate of the economy at 8% per annum. The picture is daunting – even assuming the population stabilizes at 1.5 billion, 500 million people are projected to move from rural areas to cities where per capita energy consumption is triple the rural rate. And that does not take in to account the energy consumption for the concrete needed to build the houses and infrastructure which is a major source of CO2 output in China. Car ownership is projected to rise five fold to 250 million.

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