Alarming increase in expected growth of China CO2 emissions
The growth in China's carbon dioxide emissions is far outpacing previous estimates, making the goal of stabilizing atmospheric greenhouse gases even more difficult, according to a new analysis by economists at the University of California, Berkeley, and UC San Diego.
Previous estimates, including those used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, say the region that includes China will see a 2.5 to 5 percent annual increase in CO2 emissions, the largest contributor to atmospheric greenhouse gases, between 2004 and 2010.
The new UC analysis puts that annual growth rate for China to at least 11 percent for the same time period.
The researchers' most conservative forecast predicts that by 2010, there will be an increase of 600 million metric tons of carbon emissions in China over the country's levels in 2000.
This growth from China alone would dramatically overshadow the 116 million metric tons of carbon emissions reductions pledged by all the developed countries in the Kyoto Protocol. The projected annual increase in China alone over the next several years is greater than the current emissions produced by either Great Britain or Germany.
In explaining the starting differences in results from previous estimates for China's carbon emissions growth, the UC researchers point out that they used province-level figures in their analysis to obtain a more detailed picture of the country's CO2 emissions up to 2004.
Researchers traditionally calculate the CO2 emissions for a region or country from data on fossil fuel consumption. Existing models then use those emission figures and factor in such variables as population size, a society's affluence and technology developments to forecast the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.
Stabilizing emissions hard to achieve
Based upon these findings, the authors say current global warming forecasts are "overly optimistic," and that action is urgently needed to curb greenhouse gas production in China and other rapidly industrializing countries.
The authors of the study, Maximillian Auffhammer, UC Berkeley assistant professor of agricultural and resource economics, and Richard Carson, UC San Diego professor of economics, based their findings upon pollution data from China's 30 provincial entities.
Auffhammer said this paper should serve as an alarm challenging the widely held belief that actions taken by the wealthy, industrialized nations alone represent a viable strategy towards the goal of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.
"Making China and other developing countries an integral part of any future climate agreement is now even more important," stresses Auffhammer.
"It had been expected that the efficiency of China's power generation would continue to improve as per capita income increased, slowing down the rate of CO2 emissions growth. What we're finding instead is that the emissions growth rate is surpassing our worst expectations, and that means the goal of stabilizing atmospheric CO2 is going to be much, much harder to achieve."
The study is scheduled for print publication in the May issue of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, but is now online.
Source and more information:
UC Berkeley News
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