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U.S. and China fight plan to slow global warming

U.S. and China fight plan to slow global warming

U.S. and China fight plan to slow global warming
April 30, 2007

Claiming that costs of fighting global warming will be higher than consensus estimates, China and the United States are fighting plans to slow climate change, according to the Associated Press (AP). The countries also say the impacts of climate change will not be as severe as projected and want to raise the emissions cap of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 430 parts per million (ppm) proposed by the European Union to 445 ppm. Current CO2 levels stand around 381 ppm.

The AP says that the United States hopes to delay binding action on global warming as long as possible and is pushing for carbon sequestration strategies that would prolong the use of coal, a greenhouse gas-intensive source of energy used for electricity generation. The United States and China have some of the world’s largest coal reserves.

The AP reports that the U.S. and China want the draft Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report to say the cost of available technologies to reduce emissions “could be unacceptably high.”

“Mitigation efforts over the next two to three decades can reduce the rate of growth of greenhouse gas concentrations,” stated the documents reviewed by the AP. “However, development and commercialization of advanced technology and implementation of advanced practices will have a large bearing on long-term greenhouse gas concentrations.”

The U.S. reportedly also raised concerns over the security implications of a shift away from coal.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC panel, did not comment on the U.S. and Chinese documents, according to the AP.

Current coal reserves. Source: US Department of Energy/Energy Information Administration

Cleaner, more efficient use of coal could play a key role in addressing climate change, especially with the growing importance of coal as an energy source as world crude oil supplies are diminished in the future. Coal presently supplies about two-thirds of China’s energy and one-third of the energy demand in the United States but, due to its abundance, is forecast to become an increasingly important relative to petroleum around mid-century.

Crude oil imports by country of origin, thousand barrels per day – 2005. Source: DOE/EIA. Click to enlarge.

Graph showing domestic crude production versus crude oil imports, thousand barrels per day – 1920-2005. Source: DOE/EIA. Click to enlarge.

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