China overtakes US as top polluter

Dutch study reports big leap in carbon emissions from China's booming economy.

    China has rejected caps on emissions saying development must take priority [Reuters]

    Carbon dioxide emissions are the biggest man-made contributor to global warming.
    Jos G J Olivier, the agency's senior scientist, said on Wednesday the report was a reflection of China's "fast industrial production activities and their fast development".
    He said there was not much chance China will now lose its lead.
    "China's growth will saturate at some point," he said. But "for now, we don't see a trend [toward] this saturation yet."
    Bert Metz, the agency's senior researcher, said the analysis was done using methods and data that "are the best currently available".
    This means the "Chinese contributions to global CO2 emissions are getting more important," Metz told The Associated Press.

    China's soaring demand for energy is
    driving up pollution levels [GALLO/GETTY]

    The study said China relies on coal for two-thirds of its energy needs and makes 44 per cent of the world's cement, producing 6.2 bn metric tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2006.
    In comparison, the US, which gets half its electricity from coal and produced 5.8 bn metric tonnes of CO2.
    Chinese environmental officials have acknowledged rising emissions but insist they are far below the US on a per capita basis due to the vast difference in population figures.
    Energy experts said the Dutch findings confirmed predictions of China quickly surpassing the US in carbon dioxide emissions.
    Development priority
    China has come under growing international pressure to take more forceful measures to curb releases of greenhouse gases.

    "All the West has done is export a great slice of its carbon footprint to China and make China the world's factory"

    Yang Ailun, Greenpeace China

    Beijing unveiled its first national energy efficiency policy in early June, promising to rein in greenhouse gas production by outlining steps to meet new  targets for controlling greenhouse gas missions.
    It has however refused to enforce mandatory emissions caps saying that development is a priority, but has pledged to raise awareness about global warming.
    Yang Ailun of Greenpeace China called on the government to take more steps to protect the environment.
    "Due to the urgency of climate change, China has the responsibility to take immediate actions to reform its energy structure and curb its CO2 emissions," she said in a statement.
    She noted that part of the blame lay with the West's appetite for cheap consumer goods made in China.
    "All the West has done is export a great slice of its carbon footprint to China and make China the world's factory," she said.
    "This trend has kept the price of projects in the West down, but led to a climate disaster in the long term."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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