A Changing Climate in China: Looking Beyond Kyoto
PAN Jiahua, Research Center for Urban and Environmental Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
CHENG Hongbo, Research Center for Urban and Environmental Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
WANG Mou, Research Center for Urban and Environmental Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Unrestrained development and industrialization throughout the country makes China particularly vulnerable to the increasing changes of climate. Extreme ecological events—such as snowstorms, floods, and droughts—are now common news headlines in China. Experts estimate that China's glaciers will disappear between 2035 and 2050. Forty percent of the world's population depends on rivers originating in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau—rivers that depend heavily on these glaciers. China, with its economy based mainly on heavy industry and coal for cheap energy, emits high levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs)—recently overtaking the United States as the global emitter of carbon dioxide—ultimately accelerating global warming and climate change. China is building a new 1,000-megawatt coal-fired power plant every week, and it consumes half the world's cement, a quarter of all steel, and two-fifths of all copper. The Chinese government has begun to adopt stricter energy conservation legislation, but has repeatedly resisted international GHG reduction targets.
The deadline for creating a post-2012 climate regime is fast approaching with the Copenhagen meetings set for 2009. The steps taken by the top two carbon producers—the United States and China—are central to the success of these international climate talks. In this China Environment Forum meeting, speakers from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Research Center for Urban and Environmental Studies will examine the evolution of China's positions in climate change negotiations, China's interests in addressing climate change, why China refuses to commit to a reduction target, and China's perspective on the post-2012 climate regime. The speakers will emphasize how the regime can more effectively engage China and how China and the United States can work together on climate.