China's economy heating up
China is expected to surpass the United States as the largest global polluter of greenhouse gases within the next two years. The San Francisco Chronicle states that the country’s fossil fuel consumption increased by 9.3 percent in 2006, as compared to an annual increase of about 1.2 percent in the United States. Inefficient coal power plants supply about 70 percent of the country’s energy output.
The Bush Administration points to emissions increases in China and other fast-growing poor countries as justification for not taking more aggressive steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Meanwhile, the United States contributes more per capita to global climate change than any other nation. According to the New York Times, a recently released United States Climate Action Report predicts an 11 percent growth in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in the decade between 2002 and 2012, a mere 0.6 percent reduction in growth from the previous decade.
As the richest country in the world, the United States should lead the way in combating global climate change. We need to hold western industrialized countries accountable for the damage that has already occurred, while providing clean technologies and environmental assistance to China and other developing countries.