China and the IPCC report

With the recent release of the IPCC report, there have been some responses by Chinese officials to the report. There is clear acknowledgment of the science of climate change and the seriousness of the problem, unlike past positions of the Bush Administration. Unfortunately, the response by some Chinese officials was not as positive with respect to China’s mitigation efforts. Qin Dahe, chief of the China Meteorological Adminstration, suggested that the cost of reducing carbon emissions might be too high for China to bear at this time because it relies on coal for 70% of its energy needs and because conversion to clean energy sources would be expensive. (SCMP 2/7/07) Of course, China still has much lower per capita carbon emissions than industrialized countries. But given that climate change is expected to continue to change precipitation patterns, including exacerbating water availability that already seriously impacts parts of China, taking the challenge of climate change consequences more seriously should arguably be of much higher priority to China’s government. After all, fixing environmental problems before they arise is inevitably cheaper than fixing them after the fact.

By the way, I have not been posting here for various reasons. (A couple of weeks ago, my wife Tinling Choong’s novel was released into bookstores nation-wide – her website is at — and I was in China for parts of December.) But over the next few weeks, I am going to catch up on some things, including some observations from my trip to the Guangdong countryside and to one of the “cancer” villages there. Over the coming weeks, I am also planning to change the format of my blog, posting on environmental topics beyond China.

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