Today marks the historic day when China took over the global leadership in terms of absolute CO2 emissions. Of course it will be many years before it takes overs in terms of emissions per person.
This "event" has been covered by the mainstream media but has perhaps best examined by the Guardian. The paper version has some excellent "facts and figures".
China overtakes US as world's biggest CO2 emitter
China has overtaken the United States as the world's biggest producer of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, figures released today show.
The surprising announcement will increase anxiety about China's growing role in driving man-made global warming and will pile pressure onto world politicians to agree a new global agreement on climate change that includes the booming Chinese economy. China's emissions had not been expected to overtake those from the US, formerly the world's biggest polluter, for several years, although some reports predicted it could happen as early as next year.
But according to the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, soaring demand for coal to generate electricity and a surge in cement production have helped to push China's recorded emissions for 2006 beyond those from the US already. It says China produced 6,200m tonnes of CO2 last year, compared with 5,800m tonnes from the US. Britain produced about 600m tonnes.
Jos Olivier, a senior scientist at the government agency who compiled the figures, said: "There will still be some uncertainty about the exact numbers, but this is the best and most up to date estimate available. China relies very heavily on coal and all of the recent trends show their emissions going up very quickly." China's emissions were 2% below those of the US in 2005. Per head of population, China's pollution remains relatively low - about a quarter of that in the US and half that of the UK.
The new figures only include carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement production. They do not include sources of other greenhouse gases, such as methane from agriculture and nitrous oxide from industrial processes. And they exclude other sources of carbon dioxide, such as from the aviation and shipping industries, as well as from deforestation, gas flaring and underground coal fires.
China building more power plants[BBC]
China is now building about two power stations every week, the top climate change official at the UK Foreign Office, John Ashton, has said.
China unveils climate change plan
China vowed to "blaze a new path to industrialisation" today as it unveiled its first national plan on climate change.
But in a blow to efforts to tackle global warming, the world's second biggest producer of greenhouse gases refused to accept binding targets for emissions, saying wealthy developed nations must take the bulk of the responsibility for the problem.
The announcement of the 62-page action plan appeared aimed at deflecting criticism ahead of the G8 plus six summit in Germany this week and a series of key international meetings on the environment.
China's "Professional Noses" Sniff Out Polluters[PlanetArk]
BEIJING - An environmental monitoring station in southern China is recruiting people with keen noses to sniff out foul gases in the atmosphere and provide more accurate readings of air quality.
A team of 11 "professional noses" at a monitoring station in Panyu, an industrial town in the Pearl River delta in Gaungdong province, had been trained by air pollution experts, Wednesday's China Daily quoted a senior official at the station as saying.
China Overtakes US as Top CO2 Emitter - Dutch Agency [PlanetArk]
"China's 2006 carbon dioxide emissions surpassed those of the United States by 8 percent," the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency said in a statement. In 2005, it said China's emissions were 2 percent below those of the United States.
"With this, China tops the list of CO2 emitting countries for the first time," it said. Almost all scientists say rising amounts of carbon dioxide will bring more droughts, floods, desertification, heatwaves, disease and rising seas.
Pollution in China: Peril and Hope x5 [IPE Zone]
Here is a collection of recent news on China's environmental situation. The first three are rather depressing, but the last two show some hopeful signs for the country. You know, you could have your hands filled 24/7 with a blog that covered environmental issues in China alone.
The final point is one we agree with and why we currently have two PhD students working on this topic.
International Political Economy Zone (IPEZone) has now been added to the blogroll. It is an excellent blog that also originates from the University of Birmingham. This is still one of the best blog by-lines:
"Tales of Power, Money, and Occasional Violence"