9 january 2010

[4C Note: In the aftermath of the disappointing result of the Copenhagen climate summit, some have blamed the refusal of the Chinese to commit to reduction targets and verification, others the paucity of the U.S. reduction proposals, still others the weak presentation of the EU or the elitest role of the Danish government. All these parties bear major responsibility for the debacle, but the Chinese enthusiasm for the result is particularly unfounded. According to the Reuters article below, the Chinese government now says that China obtained both a recognition of their offer to reduce carbon intensity per unit produced (without international verification) and an agreement by the West for major financial help for developing countries, with details to be filled in later.

However, the promised Chinese reduction of 40-45% in carbon intensity per unit of production by 2020, with 2005 as base year, is probably less than the amount that would be achieved under business as usual, since China's current rate of reduction (since 2005) has been 4% per year and continuation of that rate would bring about a reduction by 2020 of 60%. Moreover, given an anticipated 8-10% per year increase in GDP, total Chinese emissions would continue to increase sharply, more than counterbalancing any decrease in developed countries. In view of the warnings by scientists that peaking of GHG emissions any later than 2015-2017 will probably permit an irreversible climate catastrophe, the positions of both the Chinese and the industrial powers of the global North merit condemnation and protest in the runup to this year's conference in Mexico. The bloated Western consumption levels that the Chinese wish to emulate, and the dogma of industrial growth that drives those levels, constitute a recipe for global disaster.

While any reasonable person recognizes the Chinese need to relieve the persistent poverty of a majority of their people, cannot this be done less frantically and dangerously? Could not a greater part of their powerful growth be directed, with appropriate technical and financial assistance from the West, to a more rapid replacement of fossil by renewable energy? Perhaps at a rate of 8% per year while total industrial growth is limited to 6%? And could not the West, still foolishly identifying economic recovery with growth, see the wisdom of an equal 8% per year conversion from fossil to renewable energy, and agree to 0 growth until the danger of runaway warming has been prevented?

China says achieved goal in Copenhagen climate deal

BEIJING (Reuters) , January 9, 2010

Chinese negotiators achieved their goal at Copenhagen climate talks in ensuring financial aid for developing nations was not linked to external reviews of China's environmental plans, its top climate envoy said on Saturday.

Britain, Sweden and other countries have accused China of obstructing the climate summit, which ended last month with a non-binding accord that set a target of limiting global warming to a maximum 2 degrees Celsius but was scant on details.

China would never accept outside checks of its plans to slow greenhouse gas emissions and could only make a promise of "increasing transparency," Xie Zhenhua, deputy head of the powerful National Development and Reform Commission, said at a forum.

Developed nations' promise of $100 billion in financial aid by 2020 to help poorer countries adapt to climate change offered a good stepping stone for negotiations, he said.

"Next time, we can talk about when will they pay the money and how much each country will pay," he said.

Xie also said that China was well on track to meeting its goal of cutting energy intensity -- or the amount of energy consumed to produce each dollar of national income -- by 20 percent over the five years through 2010.

It had already made a 16 percent cut as of the end of last year, he said.

"As long as we continue to make efforts, we are likely to achieve the targeted 20 percent cut this year," he said.

Xie added that China was drafting tough guidelines for reducing the carbon intensity of its growth in its next five-year plan for economic development, which will cover the 2011-2015 period.

China has pledged to cut the amount of carbon dioxide produced for each unit of economic growth by 40-45 percent by 2020, compared with 2005 levels.

(Reporting by Zhou Xin and Simon Rabinovitch; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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