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China Working to Reduce Carbon Footprint

By Kenneth Barbalace
[Thursday, April 26, 2007]
When we think of China and the environment, we often think of choking haze, belching smokestacks and mountains of coal. Yes, China's environmental record leaves a great deal to desired. Last year EnvironmentalChemistry.com even reported about China's lack of environmental controls resulting in toxins making it into European and American food supplies via Norwegian farm raised salmon. Even the pet food recalls in the U.S. and Canada were the result of contaminated wheat and rice glutens from China.

There is, however, another side to China's environmental picture. China is trying to clean up their act and their environment. For a developing country with a population of 1.3 billion people, China has set some very ambitious goals. The Christian Science Monitor is reporting that China has adopted goals of reducing their CO2 emissions to GDP ratio by 20% by 2010 and 80% by 2050. This is a far more aggressive reduction in CO2 emissions as a ratio to GDP than has been adopted by President Bush, which is only 18% by 2010 and 20% by 2020.

Part of the way China plans to reduce CO2 emissions is to shut down 50 gigawatts of their least efficient coal fired power plants and to increase their production of energy from renewable resources to 16% of their total energy needs by 2020.

Now, some might argue that it is so much easier to for China to reduce CO2 pollution because they are such bad polluters to begin with and the U.S. has very strict environmental controls already in place. The simple fact of the matter that is that the United States is the single biggest emitter of CO2 in the world producing 6 billion tons of CO2 pollution per year. This works out to around 20 tons of CO2 pollution per year for every man, woman, and child in the United States. As a comparison, China currently produces less than 4.6 tons of CO2 per person per year (6 billion tons of CO2 per year divided by 1.3 billion people).

EnvironmentalChemistry.com has in the past and will again very soon publish articles that show how China's poor environmental practices cause toxins to make it into the world's food supplies. Today, however, I will give credit where credit is due and applaud China's ambitious goals to reduce CO2. I just hope they meet their objectives.

Just think of how much CO2 emissions could be reduced if the United States followed China's environmental lead on this issue and actually took real measures to reduce CO2 emissions. Personally, it appalls me to think that as an American I am part of the most CO2 polluting and resource consuming nation on Earth. In coming weeks and months I will write about measures I have taken as an individual to reduce my personal carbon footprint and we will publish articles on environmentally sustainable technologies.


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