24 september 2013

China looks at reducing pollution faster in next five-year plan

By Pilita Clark, Environment Correspondent, Financial Times, September 24, 2013

China is looking at scaling back the pollution that has made it the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter faster than expected according to the British economist, Lord Nicholas Stern.

In discussions about the shape of China’s next five-year national development plan for 2016-2020, “we’re hearing that the emissions might be targeted to peak by 2025”, said Lord Stern, the author of the 2006 Stern Review on the economics of climate change who has worked, on and off, in China for the past 25 years.

“I’ve not heard a peak date under discussion in China earlier than 2030 before. Now there’s a discussion of 2025,” he told reporters in London on Tuesday.

China’s rapid economic growth has seen it power ahead of the US to become the world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main human-made greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.

Its future emissions are therefore crucial to global efforts to tackle climate change, now on track to produce a legally binding international agreement in Paris in late 2015.

Though he stressed he could not say what would end up being included in the new plan, Lord Stern said he had also heard China might be looking at other measures that could lead to much sharper cuts in emissions than anticipated.

These included targets for an absolute reduction in its emissions, rather than the current targets which primarily aim to reduce so-called emissions intensity, or emissions per unit of economic output.

He also said he believed China’s use of coal, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels, was likely to peak much faster than some have predicted, and possibly earlier than 2020.


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