China has overtaken the US in carbon emissions, thanks to a growth rate that has far exceeded predictions and a suprising reduction in US emissions. Of course, the Guardian fails to mention that aspect in its report, but it does note that the US warned that any emissions protocols that excluded China would fail:
China has overtaken the United States as the world’s biggest producer of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, figures released today show.
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.
The Senate saw this outcome in 1997, when they refused to consider the Kyoto treaty as long as it excluded China and India. The treaty resembled an economic suicide pact as it hamstrung energy production in Western nations while allowing the emerging economic powerhouses in Asia unrestricted use of its coal and oil resources. The Bush administration agreed and tried to implement an agreement that would have included China and India in a series of voluntary targets and financial incentives.
Europe objected to the effort, claiming that the Bush administration wanted to undermine emissions controls. However, their own track record shows that they have given nothing but lip service to the protocols they champion. A report last year shows Europe on pace to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by a whopping 0.6% by 2010 — less than half of what we achieved last year alone here in the US.
China’s emergence as the top emitter years ahead of schedule shows the folly of both relying on Kyoto experts for predictions and the Kyoto treaty to reduce global emissions.