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While the U.S. has pledged binding emissions cuts, China, the world's largest emitter refuses to do so.  (Source: Daily Mail)

China's wild plan claims it will make even bigger cuts in the U.S. -- only it will wait a few years before cutting emissions at all. Its plan is also entirely on a "voluntary" basis.  (Source: CE Journal)
China refuses U.S. request to set definite targets, should U.S. stick to its own plan?

While it is unknown definitively whether manmade greenhouse gases are playing a role in climate change, or exactly what that role may be, many scientists and politicians support early studies which suggest a link between carbon dioxide emissions and a global warming trend.  They want the international community to band together to make drastic cuts to the global CO2budget.  The only problem is that those cuts are far from cheap; rather they may cost trillions of dollars.

The U.S. has already committed to rather stringent emissions cuts.  President Obama has pledged that the U.S. will cut cut 17 percent of its emissions by 2020 (with regards to 2005 levels), 30 percent reduction by 2025, 42 percent by 2030, and 83 percent by 2050.  

Those cuts will have a major impact on the world emissions picture, as the U.S. is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases.  However, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China, has been reticent to commit to a solid goal of any kind, saying that it prefers to make "voluntary" commitments.

At Tsinghua University in the Chinese national capitol in Beijing on Wednesday the top U.S. climate negotiator, Todd Stern, was in talks with high level Chinese officials about adopting more binding targets.  

Stern, fresh off an grueling run at Copenhagen, spoke to reporters, stating, "With respect to the issue of transparency, I think it's hugely important and we do put a lot of emphasis on it.  Countries need to be able to see what track the world is on generally, where we are going.  The only way we can do that is if there are clear and transparent measures with respect to the inventories of greenhouse gases, what measures are being put in place by countries and so forth."

The greenhouse gas talks with China are part of a longer series of talks concerning economic cooperation and strategic cooperation, particularly on touchy issues like the recent attack by North Korean on a South Korean vessel.  When it comes to climate the U.S., for all its efforts, may be unable to convince China to adopt a binding resolution.

Beijing's emission plan is rather bizarre, and according to some, impossible.  The nation plans to allow emissions to climb for several more years before dramatically turning the corner, and by 2020 reducing emissions 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels.  So in other words, Beijing thinks it can accomplish what the U.S. is doing 
and far more in a far shorter time frame, on a voluntary basis.

Of course, what the U.S. worries about is that China won't even match the U.S. pledge by the time 2020 rolls around, because there's no binding commitment.  If China misses its target, it's no big deal -- it was voluntary in the first place.  And China has already argued in the past that it should get its chance to grow rampantly and pursue the cheapest path to expansion -- regardless of emissions -- because Western nations already had the chance to do so.  This long-standing rhetoric clashes with the nation's promises, and makes their voluntary nature all the more suspect.

Still, China and the U.S. hope to be closer to seeing eye-to-eye on the climate issue by November, when the next round of UN climate talks are held in Cancun, Mexico.  In the meantime, the U.S. has to consider its own emissions goals and how it plans to meet them.  While the issue of China is concerning to U.S. officials, surely a bigger concern is how to effectively cut the U.S.'s carbon output without doing billions in damage to the nation's economy in the process.



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By MasterBlaster7 on 5/27/2010 7:10:04 PM , Rating: 2
OK guys, your pissing me off. You need to do some of your own research into these issues before you start to blather on. This is a technical publication act a little bit technical.

The main reason, I am not worried about china and their contribution to global warming, is their efforts in 4th generation nuclear research and application. Basically, they are done with the research (on pebble-bed nuclear reactors) and they are in the process of building their first 6 reactors. Should be about 30 of em in 2020. And, probably 300 plus in 2030. So, between say 2030 and 2050 after they have ramped up production they could go nuclear french style (France gets 80% of its power from nuclear--zero emissions)

Why is 4th gen nuclar so great? (ie pebble bed nuclear reactors and prismatic reactors). Two reason...

1) they are melt down proof: you could expose the reactor core Chernobal style for a whole month without doing anything about it and you wont get so much as a radioactive mouse fart out of the core.

2) it runs super hot for hydrogen cracking: It uses helium as a moderator at 1000 degrees Celsius. Much hotter than a standard reactor. That heat can be used directly to crack water into hydrogen and oxygen. And, just like that the hydrogen economy is invented. So you fix auto pollution too.

So where is the US in 4th gen nuclear? about 10 years away from our first prismatic test reactor and probably about another 10 years away from working reactors. That puts us 15-20 years behind where china is right now...getting it done. And, im not even counting all the red tape we are going to have to chew through to get back online with new nuclear power.




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