By Paul Homewood
“and make sure that the commitment of reducing CO2 emission per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020 from 2005 level is fulfilled”
We often hear claims that China are moving much faster than the West in cutting emissions. For instance , John Gummer commented on the BBC’s Today programme a couple of weeks ago that “If you look at what China’s doing…China’s actually moving a lot faster than we are now, and it’s actually moving towards a peak in its emission in the mid, maybe even in the early, 2020s.”
And today, Geoffrey Lean in the Telegraph tells us that “China is setting an example to the world on climate change”.
But what is the reality? Is China really going to start cutting emissions?
In his speech to the Climate Change Conference, Xie Zhenhua, the head of their delegation in Warsaw reaffirmed China’s commitment to reducing emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45% by 2020, from 2005 levels.
A cut of 40-45% certainly seems a good start, but is it all it appears? The key, of course, is that the cuts won’t be in actual emissions, only in relation to GDP. And as we all know China’s GDP has been going up in leaps and bounds in the last few years, as the graph below shows.
Wikipedia gives the comparative GDP numbers for 2005 and 2012, all at current prices, for China
|US Dollars Trillion||Renminbi Trillion|
The percentage increase is greater in dollars because the dollar has depreciated, so let’s work on the lower renminbi figures. Assuming an annual GDP increase of 8% between now and 2020, we would be looking at a GDP figure in 2020 of 96 trillion renminbi, again at today’s prices. This would be five times greater than 2005.
Now let’s look at CO2 emissions.
|Million Tonnes Carbon Equivalent|
Now we can crank some numbers out.
Assuming China maintains CO2 emissions per unit of GDP at 2005 levels, their emissions in 2020 would be:
(96 / 18 ) x 1579 = 8421 million tonnes.
Now, reduce this figure by 40%, and we get:
8421 x 0.6 = 5052 million tonnes.
So, far from cutting emissions, China’s “commitment” boils down to nearly doubling their emissions by 2020.
It does not seem such a good deal after all, does it?
The Chinese, of course, have been totally transparent about all of this. But don’t believe the likes of John Gummer when they try and keep these facts from you.
Just to put the China numbers into perspective, their current emissions are 27% of the global figure, so a doubling would add another quarter.
Such an increase would be one and a half times the combined emissions of the whole of the EU, Russia and the rest of Europe and Eurasia.
All of this rather begs the question – if CO2 is really such a problem, why are not the UN, Greenpeace, UNFCC, Western politicians, activist scientists and all the other hangers on jumping up and down and demanding that China starts making real cuts now?
If you run the above calculations through with the 2012 figures, you find that China has already achieved its target of a 40% reduction
Assuming China maintains the same emissions per unit of GDP between 2005 and 2012, emissions in 2012 would be:
(51894/18496) x 1579 = 4430
Actual emissions were 2625, which represents a cut of 41% from 4430
It is hardly surprising, therefore, that China can confidently promise cuts of 40 to 45%. They have already achieved them.
The implication, therefore, is that emissions will, from now on, carry on increasing in line with GDP, which is on track for an 8% increase this year. If annual increases continue at this sort of level, a not unreasonable scenario, GDP would have nearly doubled over 2012 levels by 2020.
Please note “thousand tonnes” should have read “million tonnes”. Now amended.