Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why Copenhagen Will Not Matter

For all of the talk about how Copenhagen will result in reductions in global emissions of carbon dioxide, the sad truth is that emissions will continue to rise globally, particularly because of China. In fact, while China has embarked on the most vigorous expansion of nuclear power in its history, and hopes to quadruple its reliance on nuclear power to generate electricity (and which generates its own concerns over safety), emissions from China are set to increase 72-88% by 2020.
Electrical demand is growing so rapidly in China that even if the industry manages to meet the ambitious 2020 target, nuclear stations will still generate only 9.7 percent of the country’s power, by the government’s projections.

Bringing so much nuclear power online over the next decade would reduce the country’s energy-related emissions of global warming gases by about 5 percent, compared with the emissions that would be produced by burning coal to generate the power.

“For anyone concerned about carbon dioxide emissions, it’s heartening, but it’s only a piece of the puzzle,” said Jonathan Sinton, a China specialist at the International Energy Agency in Paris.

China, which by most estimates overtook the United States in 2006 to become the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is seeking sharp improvements in the energy efficiency of its economy.

But the economy is growing so fast that even if the country can meet its goals, total emissions will rise 72 to 88 percent by 2020, Mr. Sinton said.
That's right folks. Even with all the hoopla surrounding Copenhagen and all the dire warnings about global warming and the need to engage in reductions in emissions, China's output is set to dwarf the emissions to date.

And China isn't forsaking coal powered plants either. It needs to build a whole lot of those as well, in addition to the nuclear power facilities to generate the power it needs.

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