View from a bell tower in Xian, China

Back in October, thirty European companies banded together and called on the European Union (EU) to slash emissions by 30 percent by 2020. The proposal went above and beyond the EU's targeted and agreed-upon goal of cutting emissions by 20 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, but the problem is that reducing the EU's greenhouse gases, even by 30 percent, is expected to have an imperceptible impact on the environment and will almost certainly be offset by China's growing problems.

The International Energy Agency's (IEA) chief economist, Fatih Bairol, said that any gains resulting from the stricter EU target would, "roughly equal China's two-week gas output" while adding that, "the United States and China are essential for combating climate change globally." Bairol's remarks come after the IEA concluded that China's energy use has jumped, in 2009, from about half that of the U.S.' use to leading the world in consumption for 2010. In addition, the IEA's recently published World Energy Outlook estimates that China's energy demand will rise by another 75 percent by 2035, accounting for 22 percent of worldwide demand 25 years down the road.

With China's economy growing at a rapid clip, it seems unlikely that emissions reductions by any country – or union of countries – that uses only a fraction of the energy of China will, unfortunately, have little noticeable impact on the global environment.

[Source: EurActiv | Image: plusgood -–C.C. License 2.0]

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