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China sets carbon emissions target

Scott Tong Nov 26, 2009
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China sets carbon emissions target

Scott Tong Nov 26, 2009
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: China is the world’s largest source of carbon emissions. And now, it’s putting forth a carbon target in a run-up to next month’s climate change talks in Copenhagen. The United States has said it would bring carbon caps to the table as well, but there’s a difference in the numbers. Marketplace’s Scott Tong joins us now from Shanghai. Hi, Scott.

Scott Tong: Good morning, Steve.

Chiotakis: So what exactly is China committing to?

Tong: Well, it will slow the rate of growth of its carbon emissions. Specifically, Beijing says it will reduce what it calls carbon intensity by 40 percent to 45 percent. Think of it this way, Steve: Say I gain five pounds every year. And let’s just assume that it’s true, and by next year, I will commit to reducing my weight gain intensity. I’ll just gain three pounds next year, and maybe two after that. Which is pretty good, but you know what, my doctor might say you know what, that’s not good enough. And that’s the bottom line here: China’s overall emissions would still go up.

Chiotakis: Yeah, but other countries are committing to cutting emissions. So is China doing enough here?

Tong: Well, plenty of climate scientists would say this doesn’t pass the laugh test. The world is running out of time, many of them say, and China’s not doing any serious lifting. And China has to, because in the coming decades, the developing countries, India and China, they’re gonna be the ones that are the major part of the world’s carbon footprint, Steve.

Chiotakis: And in China’s defense, Scott?

Tong: Well listen, it’s . . . they would say it’s a number on the table, so let the negotiations begin. And the developing countries have always said, listen — back in Kyoto in ’97, we all agreed that the poorer countries would do less. You know, the language of Kyoto was common but differentiated responsibility. And Beijing would also say, look, per capita, China is still poor; per capita, China doesn’t emit anywhere near what the Americans emit. As one environmental activist put it: the Western world, back in the day, they went to the CO2 bank and they robbed it. And they didn’t leave any left for the emerging economies. That is the Beijing argument.

Chiotakis: All right. Marketplace’s Scott Tong joining us from Shanghai. Scott, thanks.

Tong: All right, thank you.

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