The Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency has calculated that China has now overtaken the USA as the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
This major news has been accompanied by some significant media appearances from E3G Founding Director John Ashton in his role as Special Representative for Climate Change at the UK Foreign Office. This reflected both his experience of Chinese diplomacy and the fact that he had discovered that China is now building two power stations every week.
Firstly, John was interviewed for the BBC News at 10pm – a report which was subsequently aired in Australia by ABC’s Lateline show. The video of the report can be viewed online by using the links on the right-hand side of that page.
In this interview, John Ashton states that:
"China is building new coal-fired power stations extremely rapidly, probably two a week now and still accelerating. They’re doing that because they’re having trouble supplying enough energy to keep their economy growing fast enough to keep China stable.”
John follows this with some brief analysis of the political task of engaging China:
"We need China to get its emissions under control, and the most effective way to do that is to walk our own talk, otherwise there’s chance of getting the kind of decisions in China that we need. Secondly, the Chinese will point out – and actually quite rightly – that we’ve created most of the problem in the first place, and therefore we should be willing to lead in the solution.”
These comments were further reported by ABC under the title UK ‘must set emissions control example’ to China.
Secondly, the BBC website then published a further story, also by Environment Correspondent Roger Harrabin, entitled China building more power plants.
This carried additional quotes from John Ashton:
"We need to convince China that they don’t have to make a choice between prosperity and protecting the climate. We need to help them towards a low-carbon future.
There is also a moral case. Most of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have been put there by developed countries without the constraint of having to worry about the climate. That means we should bear the leading edge of responsibility.”