The big China climate threatBy Asia Sentinel Jan 19, 2013 11:54AM UTC
The world faces another 17 years of potentially growing emissions from China’s industries, writes Asia Sentinel.
Despite having become the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases nearly two years ago, China is at least another 17 years away from peak emissions, according to a new report by the HSBC Climate Change Team, issued late last year.
“The 18th Party Congress highlighted trading of various environmental commodities – energy savings, carbon emission rights, pollution discharge rights and water rights – all of which will have a national cap, except carbon emissions,” the report indicated. “Our analysis shows that China’s emissions might not peak until 2030,” but by that time annual emissions could amount to half of the of the world’s carbon budget – what is allowed in order to stay within a target to keep the atmosphere from warming by 2 degrees Celsius.
Clearly, the team notes in a second report, titled “How to Avoid the Climate Cliff“, and issued last October. The world cannot wait until 2020 for additional action to be taken; this would mean going over the climate cliff.” The private sector must be mobilized, by getting a third of the world’s top 1,000 companies to agree to a 10 percent cut in emissonsby2020. Fossil fuels must be phased out and action taken to cut other pollutants.
“None of these requires an international treaty and many have already started,” the climate change team reports optimistically It is starting to appear, for instance, that carbon taxing, which has been discarded by conservative interests in the United States, is re-emerging as a viable tool for fiscal rebalancing, particularly in the US, the climate change team notes.
China has targeted getting 15 percent of primary energy from renewables by 2020 including starting construction of an additional 120 GW of hydroelectric power, 100 GW of wind capacity and 15 GW of solar capacity by 2015.
While the implications of a 2C climb in global mean temperatures are explosive, other organizations are concerned over the possibility of a 4C climb instead. As Asia Sentinel reported, on Nov. 19, a study by the world’s biggest climate modeling system, led by Dan Rowlands of Oxford University for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts that a two-degree Celsius increase in global temperatures by the turn of the century would have a catastrophic effect, with water stress in arid and semi-arid countries, more floods in low-lying coastal areas, coastal erosion in small island states, and the elimination of up to 30 percent of animal and plant species across the globe.
At the same time, the World Bank Group, in a report designed “to shock the world into action,” forecast the inundation of coastal cities, increased risk of damage to food production leading to higher malnutrition, dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions becoming wetter, unprecedented heat waves, especially in the tropics, exacerbated water scarcity, more high-intensity tropical cyclones and irreversible loss of biodiversity including coral reef systems unless drastic action is taken to curb greenhouse gases and climate change.
Continue reading at Asia Sentinel