Tuesday, June 17, 2008

China 'Cements' Lead in CO2 Emissions

For years, reports have shown China is beating the United States in total CO2 output, but the findings have been controversial. However, a recent study by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency shows Chinese CO2 emissions lead on the United States jumped from seven percent to 14 percent. "Now there is little doubt," reported the NY Times.

What's a dozen-or-so percentage points in the broader scheme of things? The increase in Chinese CO2 last year accounted for 75 percent of the total global increase. So it's pretty significant.

The bad news is that there's no end in site. According to the Times report, China's strongest growth is in industries where CO2 pollution is worst: cement, aluminum and plate glass. And as the country grows, demand for these materials, especially cement, will skyrocket.

Speaking of growth, China only emits 5.1 tons of CO2 per person, compared to 19.4 tons in the United States. If China wants its citizens to have the same lifestyle as Americans, they're simply going to have to spend money on clean energy and the greening of their dirtiest industries.

The good news is that, in 2007, Chinese CO2 emissions only grew eight percent compared to 11 percent growth the previous two years. Could it have something to do with cleaning up their act for the Olympics? Let's hope it's more than that.

The below satellite image (taken in Oct, 2002) shows pollution stretching from Beijing (near the top) to the Yellow River (see sediment plume, lower right).

Photo courtesy US Government)

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.