Exports driving China’s greenhouse gas emissions upwards: study

July 30th, 2008 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  


Washington, July 30 (IANS) Huge consumption of Chinese goods in the west has meant that one-third of greenhouse gases emitted by China are due to exports, according to a Carnegie Mellon University study. “We found that in 2005, fully one-third of China’s greenhouse gas emissions were due to production of exports. This proportion has risen quickly, from 12 percent in 1987 and 21 percent in 2002,” said Christopher L. Weber, a research professor in Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Some of the Olympic athletes are already voicing concerns over rising pollution levels caused by smoke and smog from coal-fired plants that helped boost Chinese exports last quarter to a whopping $666.6 billion.

Weber and a team of international researchers from Norway and Britain found soaring exports and energy use caused Chinese emissions to rise to six percent of global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. These results beg the question of who should be held responsible for China’s immense growth in emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions are warming the Earth’s atmosphere and leading to climate change, already responsible for falling farm output, more frequent and more severe droughts, floods and storms and a rise in sea level throughout the world.

The 1997 Kyoto accord on climate change did not affect China because, as a developing country, China is not required under the protocol to make cuts in carbon emissions - and that is not likely to change by 2012.

China is desperate for energy to fuel the economic expansion that is pulling its citizens out of poverty, and despite bold investments in renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, much recent energy growth is coming from coal, the only traditional energy source in abundance in China.

Weber and colleagues urged the Chinese to clean up their production practices by working with business to audit energy consumption and develop a fund to help bankroll the installation of more efficient equipment in factories and power plants.

However, the fact that such a large proportion of Chinese emissions are in exports means that the west must be responsible for helping the Chinese increase energy efficiency, they pointed out.

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