While We Were Filling Up Our Pickups, China Cut Greenhouse Gas A Whole Bunch

Some cautious good news on climate, maybe! China has reduced its emissions of greenhouse gases by a big whole lot, according to Greenpeace -- about an 8 percent reduction in coal use in the first four months of 2015 compared to 2014. And because China is on the enormous side, as countries and economies go, those Chinese reductions in carbon dioxide equal to more than the total output of C02 in the UK for the same period. So yay, slight reduction in greenhouse gases for a limited period! It all helps.

But while it's likely that some of those reductions resulted from new laws limiting emissions and from China's increased use of wind and nuclear, a big chunk of the reductions in C02 emissions are attributable to a slowdown in the Chinese economy -- especially the steel industry, which uses huge amounts of energy. Even so, the decline in emissions marks the second year in a row that Chinese CO2 emissions have dropped; domestic consumption of coal dropped 2.9 present from 2013 to 2014. China hopes to keep transitioning to cleaner energy sources, and has pledged to close mines that produce low-grade coal that produces the most CO2.

Even when the economy picks up again, the Chinese government has committed to a target of 20 percent of its energy coming from sources other than coal; currently, the country generates 3/4 of its energy from coal. And again, given the scale of the Chinese economy, that's a real drop. So two cautiously optimistic cheers! At the risk of sounding like naïve liberals, it's starting to look like China really is committed to following through on the climate agreement announced at the White House last winter. Yes, this is where, in the movies, the scene would shift to Chinese pollution spies hooking up giant hoses from their smokestacks to spew pollution right into Yosemite National Park, and won't we all be sorry now?

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So let's all take a quick moment to feel a bit optimistic about the prospects for large mammals on this planet. China produces a bit less than a third of the world's greenhouse gases, and so any downward shift in its emissions is good news, and also takes away one of wingnuts' favorite arguments against cutting fossil fuel use, the old "why should we cut back when China's still polluting" gambit. Now that the U.S. is also committing to reductions in CO2 emissions, we're almost willing to stop muttering that we're doomed, doomed, doomed. And maybe the money people will start paying attention as well, now that insurance giant Lloyd's of London has called on insurers to start incorporating climate change scenarios into their assessment of risk. We're fairly certain that Lloyd's hasn't been taken over by wild-eyed radical Marxists bent on redistribution of wealth. Even so, we're also bracing ourselves for whatever climate idiocy comes out of the House Science Committee, which will probably call on Americans to respond to the Chinese CO2 cuts by rollin' coal.

Still, way to go, China. Just don't all of you jump off kitchen chairs at once, OK?

[ThinkProgress / Forbes / The Guardian]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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