China and climate change

Wasn’t Tuesday night a scorcher?! For me it came at the end of a hot but pleasant afternoon down beside the Macquarie River helping to staff the Bathurst Community Climate Action Network stall. While we were there to answer questions from the general public, it was also good for BCCAN members to chat amongst ourselves about the state of the world.

One member, BCCAN Treasurer Greg Walker, had just returned from a brief trip to Changchun, a city of seven million people in northern China. Greg found no sign of scepticism about climate change in that country. Instead, the talk was all about what can be done to meet the challenge.

But the Chinese fear that the developed world will try to take advantage of the developing world. They argue that carbon emissions should be measured on a per capita basis, rather than a per-country basis. They also point out that the developed world should be responsible for consumption as well as production of manufactured goods. They argue that Western consumers have shifted production of “dirty” manufactured goods to the developing world and that global accounting for emissions must take account of this.

“China refuses to accept the West’s dictate that China must reduce its overall carbon emission level,” says Greg. “To do so would condemn tens of millions to remain in poverty or impose enormous cost on China to convert rapidly to renewable energy sources.”

At the same time, China has made enormous investment in renewable energy projects, with more wind farms in that country than in the US. There are new regulations to force carbon efficiency gains in housing and production and reforms in the coal industry to close low grade dirty coal mines.

But Greg’s overwhelming impression was of the pace of building and construction and the inevitable increase in total emissions. “China is the world’s greatest producer of automobiles, the greatest consumer of concrete and I understand is even more dependent on coal fired power than is Australia!”

More on Greg’s trip to China can be found in the latest newsletter on the BCCAN website.

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Congratulations to Conservation Volunteers Australia’s John Fry, who won this year’s Jo Ross memorial award for his lifelong efforts to improve the local environment.

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Tracy Sorensen is the publicity officer for Bathurst Community Climate Action Network (BCCAN). Visit www.bccan.org.au

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