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China has severe air pollution probems. It emits more greenhouse gases than any other nation.  (Source: Treehugger)

China is cleverly leveraging the warming debate to try to turn the world's most powerful developing nations against the U.S.  (Source: The Hindu)
China rallies developing nations to oppose emissions restrictions championed by the U.S. and its allies

Tensions between China and the U.S. are already running high.  You can now add one more contentious issue to the mix -- global warming.

In December, President Barack Obama traveled to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen to try to broker a climate alliance to fight global warming.  Hopes of a true international deal, though, vanished as the industrialized nations failed to reach a binding compromise with developing nations.

China, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is leading an alliance of developing nations dubbed BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China).  BASIC wants the U.S. and other "rich" nations to bear the primary cost of fighting global warming.  They argue that the industrialized nations already had their chance to grow and develop.  Meanwhile the U.S. and others have argued that China and its allies need to take warming much more seriously.

There is some hope of a compromise.  In an eleventh hour meeting at Copenhagen, between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, an interruption by President Obama triggered talks that would eventually lead to the developing countries and the industrialized ones signing an accord, near the end of the Copenhagen summit.

The Copenhagen Accord is no true climate treaty and should not be hailed as such.  It lacks any sort of clear roadmap for fighting warming.  What it does provide is an agreement that warming costs must be shouldered equally by all nations, not thrust upon industrialized or developing nations.

Many consider that a slight victory for the U.S. as the developing nations were particular vocal in calling for unequal restrictions on wealthy nations.

The debate, however, is quietly allowing China to consolidate developing nations in economic opposition to the U.S.  China scored a win when its ally Sudan was elected chair of the Group of 77 bloc of developing countries.

Meanwhile, China is courting India via the warming debate.  India is typically a close ally of America economically and based on shared domestic issues, such as terrorism threats form Islamic extremists.  However, India has allied itself with China when it comes to the warming debate.  And it seems apparent that China is in firm control of the direction of BASIC.

The true test of the future of warming legislation will come late this year.  After a series of small summits, world leaders, including, presumably, U.S. President Barack Obama, will convene in Cancun Mexico this December to try to iron out a binding treaty.

The question becomes whether China is truly looking to cooperate and is merely trying to protect its own interests, or whether the growing economic giant is looking to use the debate to consolidate its political power in the developing nation sphere, at a time when its clashing with U.S. government and businesses.

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At what cost.
By Exodite on 4/7/2010 6:07:26 AM , Rating: 2
I generally don't get involved in any form of climate debate at DT since these posts tend to bring out the frothing-at-the-mouth lunatics in force.

That said there's a question that's been on my mind for some time and since I'm in a grumpy mood today I thought it pertinent to bring it up.

Let's say, for the sake of the argument, that we're forced to choose between economic health and a controlled warming curve and choose the former.

Let's also assume that there would be different growth zones appearing, which is by no means certain as the full implications of a shifting climate is anything but trivial to predict.

How much of our the economic advantage of choosing the economy over the climate would be retained if we factor in the costs of moving global food production and accompanying workforces? If we add any other industry or population centers that for one reason or another would become unsustainable at their current locations?

Granted, it's very much an 'what if' to the power of four question but it's one that's so far remained unanswered.

I can't help but thinking it's a lose-lose proposition either way.

RE: At what cost.
By porkpie on 4/7/2010 9:07:06 AM , Rating: 2
Luckily, history gives us an answer to that question. The earth has been warmer than it is today in recent history: the Medieval Climate Optimum and the Roman Warm Period, to name two such events. Both were periods of agricultural plenty and economic prosperity for humanity. It was the cold periods before and afterwards where mankind suffered.

The idea that we're going to need to make major moves to "food production centers" is rather silly. Even if you believe the IPCC, a change of a couple degrees over 100 years is not only a slow process, but a minor one. We already grow wheat, for instance, in areas that average anywhere from 45 to nearly 80 degrees. The idea a couple degrees more is going to mean major disruption is just incorrect.

Further, I have to point out that the earth has been in a cooling trend for the last 15 years now....despite the highest CO2 levels in recorded history. This more than anything else demonstrates that CO2 is not a primary driver of climate.

RE: At what cost.
By Exodite on 4/7/2010 11:28:03 AM , Rating: 2
Luckily, history gives us an answer to that question.

No, it really doesn't.

While the actual impact of climate change remains to be seen, the 'what if' to the power of four I mentioned, you can't seriously compare the current global economy, industrialization and 6.5 billion people to the state of human civilization in the middle ages or roman era.
Further, I have to point out that the earth has been in a cooling trend for the last 15 years now....despite the highest CO2 levels in recorded history.

That's conclusive from multiple sources then I take it? I'm merely asking because living in northern Sweden I can assure you that the weather have been growing warmer and winters shorter for the last 15-20 years at least.

Of course that's no proof of anything one way or another, it's just my personal experience.

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