Jul 6, 2010

How China Handles the change to a more Green Economy

 China is becoming the 500 lb Gorilla of the world. Even though US GDP is much larger than China's the trend is for China to become one of the largest producer and consumers of goods in the world soon.

But this increased consumption and production will put extreme pressure on green house gas pollution in China since both production and consumption can be traced directly to release of CO2 and other green house gases.

How China handles this push to grow their economy and in tandem the betterment of the lives of their citizens will say much about the world effort to corral global warming.

Aspiring to a more Western standard of living, in many cases with the government’s encouragement, China’s population, 1.3 billion strong, is clamoring for more and bigger cars, for electricity-dependent home appliances and for more creature comforts like air-conditioned shopping malls.
As a result, China is actually becoming even less energy efficient. And because most of its energy is still produced by burning fossil fuels, China’s emission of carbon dioxide — a so-called greenhouse gas — is growing worse. This past winter and spring showed the largest six-month increase in tonnage ever by a single country.

But even if China can make the promised improvements, the International Energy Agency now projects that China’s emissions of energy-related greenhouse gases will grow more than the rest of the world’s combined increase by 2020. China, with one-fifth of the world’s population, is now on track to represent more than a quarter of humanity’s energy-related greenhouse-gas emissions.

¶Although China has passed the United States in the average efficiency of its coal-fired power plants, demand for electricity is so voracious that China last year built new coal-fired plants with a total capacity greater than all existing power plants in New York State.
¶While China has imposed lighting efficiency standards on new buildings and is drafting similar standards for household appliances, construction of apartment and office buildings proceeds at a frenzied pace. And rural sales of refrigerators, washing machines and other large household appliances more than doubled in the past year in response to government subsidies aimed at helping 700 million peasants afford modern amenities.
¶As the economy becomes more reliant on domestic demand instead of exports, growth is shifting toward energy-hungry steel and cement production and away from light industries like toys and apparel.
¶Chinese cars get 40 percent better gas mileage on average than American cars because they tend to be much smaller and have weaker engines. And China is drafting regulations that would require cars within each size category to improve their mileage by 18 percent over the next five years. But China’s auto market soared 48 percent in 2009, surpassing the American market for the first time, and car sales are rising almost as rapidly again this year.

But David Fridley, a longtime specialist in China’s energy at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said that the comparison to the United States and the European Union was misleading.
Manufacturing makes up three times as much of the Chinese economy as it does the American economy, and it is energy-intensive. If the United States had much more manufacturing, Mr. Fridley said, it would also use considerably more energy per dollar of output.

the above from NYTimes.com 7-5-10

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