THE VINE SEPTEMBER 11, 2009
Here's a novel way of looking at China's greenhouse-gas emissions:
Nicholas Stern, the British author of an acclaimed review on climate change, told students in Beijing’s People’s University that 13 Chinese provinces, regions and cities had higher per capita emissions than France. Six also overtook Britain.
"There are many parts of China where emissions intensity and emissions per capita are looking much like some of the richer countries in Europe," he said in a speech that laid out his predictions on global warming.
Good point. China has been arguing that its overall emissions should be allowed to keep rising for awhile longer, on the grounds that per capita levels are still rock-bottom. That might be true for the country as a whole—there are, after all, still hundreds of millions of people in China with extremely low incomes, especially in rural areas out west, which pulls the average down. But wealthier parts of the country are already at European levels of pollution, which means it's only fair that they start making serious efforts to shrink their emissions, too. Though I don't know if it's even practical to cap carbon in certain parts of the country but not others—presumably you'd get some serious leakage problems.