Clearing the Air With China – Orville Schell

In the Washington Post, Orville Schell writes about China’s ecological crisis and the role the next president of the United States could play in finding a solution:

In today’s China, nature is on the run, and at the heart of this environmental crisis sits coal, from which the country derives 69 percent of its primary energy and 52 percent of its electricity. China uses well over 2.2 billion metric tons of the stuff per year — more than the United States, India and Russia combined — and produces more conventional harmful emissions than the United States.
Sometime next year, China could surpass the United States in greenhouse gas emissions, but the average person in China still consumes less than one-fifth the energy the average American does. For China to achieve the same living standard as the United States, it would have to triple its use of coal, creating an enormous increase in both conventional pollutants and greenhouse gases. And make no mistake about it, China is angling to catch up. In fact, to keep up with this voracious demand for energy, a new conventional coal-fired power plant comes on-line in China every week. [Full text]

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