What to do about China?

Image source: bbc.co.uk

On BBC news today (RealPlayer required), there was a pretty scarey piece on the latest environment news to come out of China. Last week, a master plan was unveiled that spoke of China’s aim to bring about a 20% improvement in energy efficiency by 2010. This week it has been revealed that now TWO coal-fired power stations are being commissioned each week. It is inevitable that China will overtake the US as the world’s leading polluter soon (if it hasn’t already), but what can be done to halt environmental catastrophe? As The Guardian reports today, the Chinese are still way behind the US on an emissions per person basis, but what if all the Chinese live like Americans? How many more power stations would need to be built? The prognosis is not good and it seems the Chinese central government is unable to control the regions as they forge ahead disregarding national policies and directives. Even if there were some compliance, data collection techniques are so poor, quantitative restrictions on emissions are meaningless. The answer, it seems, is intervention by western governments to assist with technology transfer that might help to wean China off high-polluting coal powered energy (even if it is using coal in a more efficient manner).