BEIJING, Sept. 17 (UPI) — Given China’s rapid economic growth, its emissions are not likely to fall low enough to avert a global temperature reduction of 2 degrees — considered the minimum to prevent the worst of climate change — according to an influential think-tank study.
The 2-degree limit, formally adopted by the Group of Eight nations in July, does not provide adequate compromises for developing countries such as China, says the report released Wednesday by the Energy Research Institute.
In announcing the study — “China’s Low Carbon Development Pathways by 2050″ — Dai Yande, deputy chief of the institute, put the blame on wealthy nations for failing to reach the emissions targets set at Kyoto in 1997.
China’s willingness to agree to emission targets is seen as crucial to the success of December’s U.N.-backed conference on climate change to reach a new agreement that would replace the Kyoto Protocol, the first phase of which expires in 2012.
China has argued that its priority must be economic growth to relieve poverty among its vast population.
“Twenty percent of the world’s population takes 80 percent of wealth and emits 70 percent of greenhouse gases,” Yande said, the Guardian reports.
“You should not target China to fulfill the 2-degree target. That is just a vision. Reality has deviated from that vision,” Yande said.
Because China — the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels — is immersed in a huge development phase, it faces obstacles in moving towards a low-carbon path, said He Jiankun, study co-author and former executive vice president of Tsinghua University.
“There is a huge number of cities to be built. They will consume a large amount of steel and cement. This means that emissions will not be reduced for some time,” Jiankun said.
According to the study, China’ total energy consumption would exceed 100 billion tons of standard coal by 2050, far exceeding the global capacity, if the calculation was based on energy consumption growth from 2002 to 2008, state-run news agency Xinhua reports. If calculations were based on China’s growth from 1978-2008, then the country’s projected coal consumption would be around 27 billion tons by 2050. Last year’s global consumption of coal totaled 16.1 tons.
Yang Fuqiang, director of global climate solutions at the China office of WWF, said China stands to suffer the most as a result of climate change but is not likely to change direction on its emissions stance in the near future.
“China emits most (of the) carbon in the world. We don’t want this hat, but we may have to wear it for many more years,” Fuqiang said, the Guardian reports.
The study, carried out over two years and involving more than 100 researchers, was conducted by 10 independent institutes including WWF and the U.S.-based Energy Foundation.
It comes ahead of next week’s climate change conference in New York, where Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to provide information on his country’s climate change strategy.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International