Tuesday, January 6, 2009

China's Energy Use (and Greenhouse Gas Emission rate) Slows

One of the pale silver linings of a severe, global economic crisis is that energy use, and related greenhouse gas emissions, can be expected to slow considerably due to lower investment, consumption, and production in the economy. New data gives an indication of how much this is affecting China (image from Richard Morse, Stanford University):

Given current economic conditions, Stanford researchers predict that China will emit 1.9 to 2.6 billion fewer tons of CO2 over 2008 to 2010. The economic slowdown may buy humanity some time to put together a robust, post-2012 climate agreement, since this does not appear in the offing for 2009, as originally predicted. However, economic crisis will probably distract world leaders from dealing with environmental challenges, and increase the clout of domestic constituencies who will resist additional economic burdens such as are likely to be imposed under a cap-and-trade system. So when you count the economic pain this data reflects, the news is, at very best, merely a double-edged sword.

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