Skyline view in Beijing, China
Man-made carbon gas emissions are a significant cause in climate change. Perhaps at one time a debate, this fact has become common knowledge. Climate change is occurring around us and we read about or experience the damage it is causing firsthand. The world is experiencing longer and hotter summers, shorter and warmer winters, dry regions that are drier, wet regions that are wetter, heat waves that are more frequent and more severe, and violent storms that are also more common and more severe. Climate change has caused floods, rising water levels along ocean coastlines, damage to crops and other food sources, an increase in wildfires, diminishing forests, and decreasing wildlife populations, including populations of endangered species. All a result of global warming about one degree Celsius. What will the world experience from a two or more degree warming that we will certainly see in the next decade?
Where does the man-made carbon gas come from, how much is being produced, and what are the past and expected future trends?
According to Trends in Global CO2 Emissions 2013 Report by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, and similar information mirrored by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2012 the global rate of increase of CO2 gas was 1.1%, which was less than half of the average rate increase of 2.9% seen for each of the last ten years, and this decrease occurred even though there was a 3.5% growth in the global economy. However, even with this global decrease in the rate of CO2 production, global CO2 production is increasing and the world experienced a record 34.5 billion metric tons of man-made CO2 gas in 2012, and so herein lies the great problem the world faces.
Listed below are the specifics on the where, how and what in the original question above in regards to the five highest CO2 producing countries in 2012:
The fact is that China produces about twice as much CO2 as the United States, which is next biggest producer. China’s rate of CO2 gas production is not only increasing but it is increasing exponentially. This means that no matter how much the rest of the world decreases CO2 production, the CO2 production of China could eclipse the combined CO2 reduction efforts of all other counties combined.
Why should we be concerned and what can be done about it?
All research results on this subject point in the same direction; the ultimate solution is for China to decrease CO2 gas production. Analysis shows that if China steadily reverses its exponential increase so that the increase levels out to zero by the year 2025, we just might be able to stop climate change before the damage becomes irreversible.
So why doesn’t China just dramatically reduce its carbon gas production starting today?
The reasons are numerous and complicated, with some the same as other counties face and yet others unique to China. Recent articles appearing in The Economist, Rolling Stone, The New York Times, and others acknowledge China’s significant movement in and dedication to renewable energy and nuclear power. The message in these articles is that China knows it is creating this problem and it knows it needs to be a part of the solution. The rest of the world might not like the fact that even today China’s rate of carbon gas production is increasing, but it does understand the reasons for this and it does seem to empathize and at the same time acknowledge China’s efforts with renewable energy to reduce CO2 production.
So what are some of these complicated issues that China faces?
There are strong trust problems between the U.S. and China. So, for instance, if under the leadership of President Obama, the U.S. does not significantly increase its own efforts to reduce CO2 production, it is not likely that the U.S. will influence any kind of change in China. China has many other significant environmental problems as well as serious problems in other national matters such as poverty. In addition, China has a political system that tends to interfere with the energy market resulting in delayed reduction of China’s Co2 production.
What is China doing about it?
The people of China are well aware of China’s pollution problems, as they can see it each day outside their windows. The population is very concerned about the impact pollution will have on health and lifespan. Although it is incredibly unfortunate that the citizens of China are facing this hazard, a positive result is that China’s president, Xi Jinping, must surely be receiving a great many complaints and pressure from the people of China to solve China’s environment problems.
China opened to the west in 1973 and has accomplished more in this short time than anyone could have imagined to have become an economic superpower. China has four times the population of the United States, and therefore it also has four times the number of brilliant minds. There is no doubt that the Chinese are hardworking, bright and able.
On a personal level, I learned about the Chinese culture from a distance while I studied the Mandarin Chinese language throughout most of my earlier life. Later, while attending Georgetown as a mathematics/economics major I learned about Chinese economics, once again from a distance. It was not until my travels to China during which I was able to see, feel, smell, and taste the real China that I gained a true sense of China’s potential. From these collective experiences, I can tell you that you can read about the rapid development in China, and hear about it the news, but there is no way to truly understand every aspect of China’s growth until you are able to experience it for yourself. From the changes that I have personally witnessed, I can say that when China makes up its mind to do something, it can get a remarkable amount done and in record time. So if China can be persuaded that it can benefit in all of the right ways to reduce its CO2 production soon enough, all of the evidence suggests China can accomplish it before 2025.
Coal mining site at Pingshuo, China
The International Energy Alliance recognizes the world’s serious global CO2 problem and is anxious to begin focusing efforts on this problem. In addition, the IEA hopes to contribute to reversing this problem through the sharing of information and increasing global awareness. To accomplish this, we will dedicate a large portion of our website and our activities to the reduction of CO2 gas. We invite experts to contribute information through our website, and we plan to organize conferences for discussion, sharing of ideas and raising awareness. We believe the solution will require input from American experts on Chinese culture, politics and energy; Chinese experts on American culture, politics and energy; and, experts from other countries who might see neutral and fair paths more easily than either the United States or China, and who therefore might also be instrumental in negotiations. It is clear that there is no single solution to our problem, and that numerous small advances and changes will collectively solve our problems.
In our core IEA statement we make it clear that we remain politically neutral and we encourage all viewpoints to be discussed. Although the IEA believes in renewable energy and sustainable energy when it makes sense from an economic standpoint and when it is not damaging the environment in other significant ways, we also realize that the world has an ever increasing need for energy which might require compromises of using less costly and less environmentally friendly solutions.
We are looking forward to seeing how much can be accomplished before the December 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, with the hope that in some way IEA efforts help influence a positive and productive outcome of this conference.