IEA chief says China can do more on emissions

Kyodo

With more foreign aid and investment, China can impose a stricter target to slow the growth in its greenhouse gas emissions, said Nobuo Tanaka, executive director of the International Energy Agency.

“Based on our analysis, projects currently planned in China, such as energy conservation and the introduction of more renewable energy, would slash the country’s carbon intensity by 47 percent,” the head of the Paris-based energy research organization said in an interview.

Beijing has pledged to cut its carbon intensity, or the amount of carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gross domestic product, between 40 percent and 45 percent by 2020 compared with 2005 levels. That would mean the country’s total emissions would still rise because the Chinese economy is expected to continue growing rapidly over that period.

Tanaka said that after developed and developing countries agree on specific rules concerning the flow of funds to projects in industrializing nations, China’s potential to reduce emissions will increase.

Tanaka also urged India to raise its goal of a 20 percent to 25 percent reduction in carbon intensity by 2020 compared with 2005, saying he believes the country can aim for a 40 percent cut in emissions per unit of GDP.

According to the IEA, China was the world’s top carbon dioxide emitter in 2007, accounting for 21.0 percent of global emissions. India ranked fifth that year, following China, the United States, the European Union and Russia.

Tanaka told a news conference at the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen that emission reduction targets unveiled by major economies so far fall short of what is needed to avert catastrophic impacts from climate change and if not revised upward, would lead to a rise in the average global temperature of at least 3 degrees from preindustrial times.

He stressed the importance of speeding up investment in projects to trim emissions.

While the IEA now forecasts the cost of coping with global warming will reach $10.5 trillion between now and 2030, Tanaka said each year of delay in carrying out climate-friendly projects would add $500 billion to the bill.