Observations from a strange planet
The absolute total emissions from China are not really that interesting and shouldn't really play much of role in deciding who should do what. It just reflects the almost arbitrary placing of borders... should we only care about UK emissions because they are part of the EU and that adds up to a large number?It is per capita emissions that matter - if you assume an equal right to the carbon sink for each person (note that is an assumption based on an ethical judgement). China is still less than half the EU per capita and less than a quarter of the US level. It is no good arguing that is is exceeding the 'safe' per capita level anyway, as this is a norm with knobs on in the OECD.My view is that we have to start with a deal with China that goes like this:As part of the next Kyoto agreement, China should agree to pursue measures that make sense for economic or energy security reasons in their own right. Do an assessment of the potential and design the policies accordingly.[ie. commit to aggressively pursue 'no-regrets' measures]China should price carbon and raising revenue from carbon taxes.[ie. set up a carbon price signal by reorganising the tax base - should be a no-regrets measure]Include Chinese energy intensive globally traded industries in international sectoral agreements[ie. manage emissions targets for some industries (aluminium, steel, airlines, shipping, timber/pulp?) on a global basis and not part of national emissions control.]Where other countries need to reduce their share of global emissions but can do it more cheaply in China, then they should pay the incremental cost.[ie. allow emissions trading or CDM to seek cheap but positive cost options]Over time, the per-capita emissions threshold for assuming positive cost burdens will come down and more countries may enter what is now known as Annex 1: those countries that should be leading the emissions reductions. Unless it reduces its per capita emissions, China should expect to join this group in the future..[ie. at some point - not yet- China's per capita emissions will mean it should assume harder obligations, comparable with those with much higher per capita emissions. This should provide an additional signal to reduce emissions today]How does that sound?
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