Martin W

From the Guardian:

In the last six years, the Chinese coal industry, with reserves put at more than 1 trillion tonnes, has doubled production to more than 1.2bn tonnes a year. The country is now building 550 coal-fired power stations – opening at the equivalent of two a week – and in the five years to 2005, electricity generation rose 150%.

But while the Chinese economy has tripled in size in a decade, it has been at the expense of carbon dioxide emissions, which were yesterday put at more than 6.2bn tonnes in 2006, compared to nearly 5.8bn tonnes for the US.

China is well aware of its impact on climate change. Its Himalayan glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate, its deserts are encroaching on cities in the north-west, and rivers are drying up as a result of temperature rises and over-exploitation. According to the Worldwatch Institute thinktank in Washington, Chinese air pollution from coal-burning cost its economy more than $63bn (£31bn) in 2004, or roughly 3% of GDP.

But China argues that even with its surging economy, it is a relatively minor villain. The carbon footprint of the average Chinese last year was only a quarter of an American, or half that of a Briton.

As glaciers melt and rivers dry up, coal-fired power stations multiply

· Energy efficiency plan proves hard to implement
· Chinese carbon footprint a quarter of an American’s