China’s carbon-cutting more ambitious than many assume

Used to be, the U.S. couldn’t do anything about climate change because climate change wasn’t real. Now the U.S. can’t do anything about climate change because … China’s not doing anything about climate change. But surprise! Turns out China, despite being the huge energy-sucker that slipped through the Kyoto Protocol’s developing-country loophole, is working on emissions cuts of its own that could equal or outpace those in the U.S. and Europe. A program to cut energy use at factories, for instance, could cut 168 million tons of greenhouse gases by 2010 — nearly as much as the voluntary U.S. goal of 183 million tons per year by then — and a plan to increase energy efficiency 20 percent by 2010 could, even if only halfway met, lead to bigger cuts in emissions growth than Europe agreed to under Kyoto. Says Mark Levine of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: “We in the U.S. would be better off to deal with the reality of what China is doing rather than the perception of where China stands.”