26 May 2009: Fairness for India and China

China now emits 18% of total global greenhouse gases. This is the same as the USA – possibly more. So, it is obviously essential to engage the Chinese people, government and businesses over climate control. But this doesn’t mean that China and the US (or Europe) are equally ‘responsible’. The great majority of emissions since the industrial revolution have been from North America and Europe, and many of the emissions in China are from industries making goods for European or American consumers. Even ignoring these facts, Chinese average per capita emissions each year are only a quarter of average American’s. And China, despite now being an economic powerhouse, is still a developing country, with many millions suffering from poverty.

The situation in India is similar. India now produces 5% of the total global emissions each year, placing it in fourth place, behind China, the US and Russia. But Indian per capita annual emissions are less than 10% of American ones.

Both China and India are self-sufficient in coal and are rapidly building new coal-fired power stations. Therefore, carbon capture and storage must be demonstrated and scaled up without delay, so that it can be fitted to new stations and retrofitted to existing ones – in China and India, but also in the US, Russia, the EU and everywhere else.

Renewable development is also essential for China and India. Both have immense, untapped solar and wind resources. Investment and development aid must be spent on harnessing these. China and India will continue to develop and, for economic and humanitarian reasons, this must be supported. And for climate reasons, they must be supported in developing cleanly.

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