Saturday, June 10, 2006

Kyoto is nothing compared to China

Here are some really interesting highlights from today's NYT article on coal-burning power plants in China:
  • The increase in global-warming gases from China's coal use will probably exceed that for all industrialized countries combined over the next 25 years, surpassing by five times the reduction in such emissions that the Kyoto Protocol seeks.
  • Every week to 10 days, another coal-fired power plant opens somewhere in China that is big enough to serve all the households in Dallas or San Diego.
  • China has more than tripled the number of air-conditioners in the past five years, to 84 per 100 urban households.
  • India is right behind China in stepping up its construction of coal-fired power plants — and has a population expected to outstrip China's by 2030.
  • Chinese pollution is already starting to make it harder and more expensive for West Coast cities [in the U.S] to meet stringent air quality standards.
  • The sulfur pollution is so pervasive as to have an extraordinary side effect that is helping the rest of the world, but only temporarily: It actually slows global warming. The tiny, airborne particles deflect the sun's hot rays back into space. But the cooling effect from sulfur is short-lived. By contrast, the carbon dioxide emanating from Chinese coal plants will last for decades, with a cumulative warming effect that will eventually overwhelm the cooling from sulfur and deliver another large kick to global warming, climate scientists say.
This really shows that the Bush Adminstration had a legitimate point in insisting that China and India participate in the Kyoto reductions before the U.S. would. Without curbs on China and India's emissions, CO2 reduction by the rest of the world is pretty much meaningless.