It was a touch on the ironic side that I’d been asked to write a piece for Shanghaiist on China’s role in the first week of the climate change summit in Copenhagen, given I was tucked up in bed with a flask of home-made ginger tea, my heater on full whack, coughing and spluttering and observing the thick, dirty air outside. I was searching through articles and getting clued up on China’s plans to reduce emissions, whilst not contributing in any way whatsoever to said reductions. I stewed in too much fury at the polluted city on my doorstep, into which I’d had to venture three times the (freezing) day before.
Until yesterday, my knowledge of environmental issues had been limited to my elder sister’s Nazi-like division of rubbish bins for plastic, paper, aluminium and ‘normal waste’. But I did manage to see past my congested misery and find out some interesting stuff.
First, China has set the pace by pledging to reduce its “carbon intensity” (i.e. greenhouse gas emissions) by 40-45% by 2020. Pray, tell, Bryony Worthington, what does this mean?
Because economic forecasts already predict that China’s economy will become less carbon intensive in the next decade, the country’s pledge actually only amounts to a cut of between zero and 12% off business as usual emissions in 2020 (…) That is roughly a 40% increase in CO2 emissions on current levels.
Right then. So it seems China’s pledge isn’t actually all-that, and the country must do far more to cut emissions. How can she do this? Michael Levi has plenty of answers here.
But there’s also the argument that China’s role in international cooperation and diplomacy shouldn’t be forgotten. Scientific American outlined some details of a Chinese-US clean energy programme, such as the opening of a joint research centre receiving $75 million in funding from both governments over the next five years. All this talk seems to taking place in spite of Sino-American bickering in the Danish capital.
Finally, environmental issues are garnering more of a place in public opinion. There are several blogs dedicated solely to China’s environmental developments, which you can find by checking the Green Leap Forward. Further, last month in Guangzhou, citizens took to the streets in a protest against plans to build several waste incinerators potentially sitting within a thousand metres of their homes. Click here to read John Kennedy’s summary of the events on Global Voices.
If you want to read my post in full, click here. It would make a congested girl like me very happy.
Back to the ginger tea now.