New Report Details Why China Doesn't Move on CO2 Reductions any time soon.

08-Dec-2015

In an attempt to induce China to join global efforts to curtail carbon at the up- coming UN conference in Paris in December, President Obama and others argue that China’s abysmal air quality will improve if it cuts its carbon dioxide emissions.

The opposite is true. Not only do the goals of reducing carbon emissions and air pollution not reinforce each other, they conflict. Carbon dioxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas that does not harm health. Efforts to reduce it rely on un- proven abatement technologies, and are prohibitively expensive. In contrast, abating air pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide rely on proven technologies and are relatively inexpensive.

The West’s climate change establishment is worried that if Beijing focuses ‘nar- rowly’ on eliminating the air pollutants that worry the general population, China will entrench cleaner-burning fossil fuels in its economy, costing the West its leverage over China’s energy policies. Yet the Chinese public is unlikely to tolerate a ‘carbon- first’ abatement strategy while it continues to breathe noxious air.

The apparent contradiction between what the West wants and what China’s lead- ership needs is easily resolved. China’s leadership knows that what China says to the West is more important than what China does, absolving it of the need to make any binding commitment to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. China also knows that Western leaders’ have no firm expectation of concrete commitments in Paris. Rather, their paramount goal is to maintain face at the Paris talks, which would collapse with- out China’s presence.


Read the report