China Cool On Two-Degree Warming Limit
Beijing (AFP) Jun 04, 2007
China said Monday it would not back efforts to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius, which UN experts have warned is the threshold-level to stop the worst impacts of climate change. "Whether or not we can set a limit on a two-degree (3.6 Fahrenheit) rise in temperature I'm afraid still lacks a lot of scientific evidence and dependable and feasible research," China's top economic planner Ma Kai told journalists.
"There is especially no research that details the economic impact of a two-degree restriction, nor what kind of influence such a target would bring on the development of each nation."
Ma appeared to ignore a May report from the UN's top panel of climate scientists that said annual global economic growth would fall by only 0.12 percentage points if warming was limited to between 2.0-2.4 degrees Celsius.
The UN's International Panel on Climate Change, made up of experts from over 120 nations including China, said nations had the money and the technology to keep global warming to two degrees.
The panel said in an earlier report that increases beyond that threshold could unleash catastrophic consequences ranging from an increase in violent storms to severe drought to rising sea levels.
Ma's comments were specifically aimed at a European Union proposal calling for a limit on global warming this century to two degrees, and cutting global greenhouse gas emissions to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
The European bloc hopes to enshrine the proposal in a summit statement of the Group of Eight meeting in Germany this week.
"Concerning the EU's proposal to set a two-degree Celsius limit on global warming, I think this is a postive gesture that again shows the EU commitment to make efforts to face climate change," Ma said.
"(But) I think that the experts need to continue to earnestly research this and come up with more proofs."
China is the biggest greenhouse gas emitter after the United States.
China ready to fight global warming, but not at any cost
Unveiling its first national strategy for tackling global warming, China also maintained it would not commit to any caps on the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming as this would curb the nation's economic boom.
"The consequences of restricting the development of developing nations will be much more serious than the consequences of global warming," Ma Kai, China's top economic planner, told journalists as he released the 62-page report.
The report emphasised that China only had a "limited capacity to tackle climate change" due to its huge population, its status as a developing nation and the high percentage of coal in the nation's energy mix.
Nevertheless, Ma said China was genuine in its commitment to combating global warming and green groups cautiously welcomed the new plan, even though it was mainly a compilation of previously announced policies.
Ma said China's top priorities were to make its economy more energy efficient and to place a greater focus on its badly degraded environment.
"This process itself will be part of China's contribution to the world's sustainable development and to global efforts to address climate changes," he said.
Chief among the important planks of the strategy, China will boost its energy efficiency -- measured in the amount of energy used per unit of gross domestic product -- by 20 percent by 2010.
The percentage of renewables in China's energy mix will also rise from about seven percent currently to 10 percent in 2010.
China will further endeavour to increase its forest cover so that trees soak up more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are blamed for global warming.
Leading environmental groups Greenpeace and WWF agreed that China's action plan was an important step forward because for the first time it set out a comprehensive global warming strategy for the world's most populous nation.
"The Chinese government has set a responsible and positive example for other countries ... to increase energy consumption efficiency and explore a low-carbon development path," WWF International director general James Leape said.
Greenpeace China also noted that the report laid out some new specific measures on addressing the use of greenhouse gas-producing fossil fuels, such as coal, to provide energy.
"The report says fuel pricing, including both oil and coal, will be reformed and prices should be based more on scarcity and the impact on the environment," Beijing-based Greenpeace climate change campaigner Yang Ailun said.
"We now want to see the next step, we want to see new taxes or economic measures to drive up the price of coal."
China is one of the most important players in the global fight against climate change because it is the second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, after the United States.
The International Energy Agency expects China to overtake the United States by 2010 or sooner.
The report was released two days before President Hu Jintao attends the G8 summit of industrialised powers in Germany, where global warming is expected to be one of the most fiercely debated issues.
China on Monday sought to highlight that rich nations were to blame for the vast majority of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are warming the planet, and the onus was on them to fix the problem.
"The developed countries can not escape the fact that they have the main responsibility for tackling climate change," Ma said.
Source: Agence France-Presse
Email This ArticleA Sound Way To Turn Heat Into Electricity
Salt Lake City UT (SPX) Jun 05, 2007
University of Utah physicists developed small devices that turn heat into sound and then into electricity. The technology holds promise for changing waste heat into electricity, harnessing solar energy and cooling computers and radars. "We are converting waste heat to electricity in an efficient, simple way by using sound," says Orest Symko, a University of Utah physics professor who leads the effort. "It is a new source of renewable energy from waste heat."
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