For the first time in history, China will contribute more to economic growth in 2008 than the United States, the International Monetary Fund predicted yesterday, according to the Daily Telegraph of London.
This year, according to at least one estimate, China overtook the United States in overall carbon dioxide emissions, and its continued economic growth -- fueled, as it is, largely by burning coal -- is a serious concern for those trying to curb the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
China has the fourth biggest economy in the world, and is growing at about a 10% annual clip (compared to about a 2% growth for the U.S., the world's largest economy).
Emerging and re-emerging economic powers like China, India, Brazil and Russia -- as well as heavily forested tropical nations, like Indonesia -- have been left out of the Kyoto Protocol, though their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is formidable, either because of fossil fuel emissions, deforestation, livestock production or some combination of the three.
One of the bars President Bush has set for the United States joining the world in a post-Kyoto treaty (it expires in 2012) is the cooperation of those countries. Critics would say the U.S. has used them as a crutch to hold up a shaky do-nothing/ do-little position on global warming. Developing nations have said rich nations that benefited from fossil fuels for a century or more should shoulder the greater burden, even if they're not currently the top polluters (U.S. fits both categories as a top past and current polluter).
Whatever the politics, the rise of China's economy shows that the United Nations needs to include it and other emerging economies in the post-Kyoto agreement to be discussed in Bali in December. The "happy handover" some economists envision as the developing countries pick up the economic slack in developed nations won't be happy at all if it is weighed down by the burden of an over-heated atmosphere.
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