Does China care about climate change?
Steve Mufson thinks they do:
For China, the challenge is immense. On average, a Chinese person emits one-fifth as much greenhouse gas as an American; an overwhelming majority of Chinese do not own cars; and half the population in China still lacks access to winter heating. But its economy is growing so quickly and prosperity is spreading so rapidly that China's demand for energy is destined to increase even if it uses less for every dollar of economic output. The State Grid's economic research institute forecasts an 85 percent increase in electricity demand by 2020.
Still, China has taken significant steps in the past five years. It removed subsidies for motor fuel, which now costs more than it does in the United States; its fuel-efficiency standard for new urban vehicles is 36.7 miles per gallon, a level the United States will not reach for seven years. It has set high efficiency standards for new coal plants; the United States has none. It has set new energy-efficiency standards for buildings. It has targeted its 1,000 top emitters of greenhouse gases to boost energy efficiency by 20 percent. And it has shut down many older, inefficient industrial boilers and power plants.
Of course, China could make an enormous good-faith effort, going much further than America has gone, and still see its emissions increase, which would mean we're all still in terrible trouble.
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