China's CO2 Emissions Must Be Same in 2030 as Now, Stern Report Says

China’s rising carbon dioxide emissions must return to today’s level by 2030 if warming since pre-industrial times is to be kept to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), London School of Economics professor Nicholas Stern said.

China, the biggest emitter, has set itself a target of cutting greenhouse gases per unit of gross domestic product by 40 percent to 45 percent from 2005 through 2020. That would still expand its total emissions because of the nation’s economic growth rate, Stern said today in an e-mailed paper.

“Low-carbon growth in China is vital both for China’s future and that of the world as a whole,” said Stern, who in 2006 published a widely cited study of climate-change economics for the British government. “Green policies should be at the heart of the 12th and 13th five-year plans,” he said, referring to China’s economic planning documents that will cover the periods 2011 through 2015 and 2016 through 2020.

China’s efforts already to reduce emissions and boost renewable energy place it at the forefront of the “global green industrial revolution,” according to Stern’s paper. His comments come three weeks before United Nations climate envoys are due to resume talks in Cancun, Mexico, where they aim to craft a global treaty to fight global warming.

China’s incentives to encourage low-carbon growth are almost triple those in the U.S., the Sydney-based Climate Institute said last month. Ernst & Young said on Sept. 8 that the Asian nation overtook the U.S. to top a quarterly index of the most attractive countries for renewable-energy projects. Even so, China relies on coal, the dirtiest of the major fossil fuels, to produce about 80 percent of its electricity.

Stern’s 2006 report said global warming may cost the world as much as 20 percent of the world’s gross domestic product because of the effects of famine, rising sea levels, storms and other environmental damage.

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