Has China Really Gotten Serious About Climate Change?

Time Magazine looks at the prospects for a serious commitment from China’s leaders to reducing emissions and cleaning up the environment:

…On Tuesday at the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, Hu made a widely anticipated speech on climate change, finely calibrated for diplomatic effect. He was nothing if not cautious, saying — accurately — that China was in the process of increasing its energy efficiency, reducing the amount of energy required to produce a unit of GDP. Indeed, China’s energy efficiency has improved in each of the past two years, a trend likely to continue, because a huge surge in investment in energy-intensive industries like steel and cement in the early part of this decade has run its course. New housing developments all over the country are also far more energy efficient. With that new energy efficiency, Hu said, will come a reduction in China’s carbon intensity, the amount of CO2 it emits for every unit of GDP. This, too, is plausible, since enhanced energy efficiency tends to reduce carbon emissions at the same time. But the world was looking for targets — hard numbers — and all Hu would say was that China would cut, by a “notable margin,” its emissions per unit of output by the year 2020. Out of such caution — standard in a country that does not want to do anything to hamstring its economic growth — it’s unlikely that historic agreements will spring.

September 24, 2009 3:23 PM
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