China’s emissions

Dangers and responses

Authored by: Bo Miao , Graeme Lang

Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  July  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415544764
eBook ISBN: 9780203876213
Adobe ISBN: 9781135998509


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The climate change problem could not have come at a worse time for China. The country has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty since the early 1980s through rapid economic development and an export-led economy, much of which depended on the extensive burning of fossil fuels to produce energy for manufacturing and transportation. But scientists around the world have come to a consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is producing global warming owing to the emissions of carbon dioxide, the most plentiful of the ‘greenhouse gases’. If China was a small country, or could rely on ‘clean’ energy technologies such as hydroelectric dams for most of its power, its greenhouse gas emissions would not receive much attention. But China has about 20 per cent of the total world population and relies heavily on its large deposits of coal for electricity and heating. Consequently, with its recent massive economic development, China is now recognised as the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas.

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