Auffhammer said this paper should serve as an alarm challenging the widely held belief that actions taken by the wealthy, industrialized nations alone represent a viable strategy towards the goal of stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.
"Making China and other developing countries an integral part of any future climate agreement is now even more important," said Auffhammer. "It had been expected that the efficiency of China's power generation would continue to improve as per capita income increased, slowing down the rate of CO2 emissions growth. What we're finding instead is that the emissions growth rate is surpassing our worst expectations, and that means the goal of stabilizing atmospheric CO2 is going to be much, much harder to achieve."
Researchers traditionally calculate the CO2 emissions for a region or country from data on fossil fuel consumption. Existing models then use those emission figures and factor in such variables as population size, a society's affluence and technology developments to forecast the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.
In explaining the startling differences in results from previous estimates for China's carbon emissions growth, the UC researchers point out that they used province-level figures in their analysis to obtain a more detailed picture of the country's CO2 emissions up to 2004.
"Everybody had been treating China as single country, but each of the country's provinces is larger than many European countries, both in geographic size and population," said Carson. "In addition, there is a wide range in economic development and wealth from one province to the next, as well as major differences in population growth, all of which has an effect on energy consumption that cannot be easily addressed in models based upon aggregate national data."
Since data on fossil fuel consumption is not repor
|Contact: Sarah Yang|
University of California - Berkeley