Cao Haili’s interesting post on ChinaDialogue - When China said “no” – deserves close attention. It is reposted at www.csp.rutgers.edu
As Haili reports: Besides the rift between China and the United States over measuring, reporting and verification (MRV), the cited evidence of China’s “wrecking” behaviour was its firm opposition to inclusion of the target of global emissions reduction of 50% on 1990 levels by 2050, with developed nations making cuts of 80%. The reason for China’s opposition was simple: it would restrict China’s development. Given the country’s rate of development and its economic and energy structure, the target would be a tough one for it to reach. Lu Xuedu, a Chinese delegate and deputy director of the National Climate Center, pointed out that global carbon emissions in 1990 were 21 billion tonnes, so a 50% cut by 2050 would mean emissions of 10.5 billion tonnes. In 2005, China emitted 6 billion tonnes of carbon. If the current rate of development continues, those 10.5 billion tonnes might not be enough for China alone, let alone the rest of the world.
There is some hyperbole in Lu’s comment – nobody, not even China, expects it to continue to grow at its current rate for the next 40 years. As a maturing economy it is bound to be lower than the current 8-10% rate and more likely in the 5-7% range. Its energy intensity is also bound to improve as well as its economy undergoes maturation. That is not to say that China’s planned rate of growth and associated energy needs are self-evidently compatible. But as Einstein said in a different context, “god is in the details”.