China is Cutting Carbon Dioxide Emissions During Economic Boom, NRDC Finds

Group Says President Bush is Wrong to Single Out China to Stall Action on Global Warming

WASHINGTON (June 15, 2001) - Despite Bush administration claims that China will soon become the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, a new report has found that China reduced its carbon dioxide emissions 17 percent since 1997 while its economy grew 36 percent.

A report released today by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) contradicts President Bush's assertion that China is not addressing the global warming problem. The NRDC report finds that:

  • By switching from coal to cleaner energy sources, initiating energy efficiency programs, and restructuring its economy, China has reduced its carbon dioxide emissions 17 percent since 1997.

  • Over the last decade, China's CO2 emissions grew 8.4 percent, while U.S. emissions grew 14 percent. During this period, however, China's economy grew four times faster than that of the United States (142 percent versus 31 percent).
  • Even if the Chinese economy continues to grow 5 percent to 6 percent per year, by 2020 China's carbon dioxide emissions still will be significantly below U.S. emissions levels in 1990, according to estimates by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

"Contrary to the president's claims, China has cut its carbon dioxide emissions 17 percent while its economy has been booming," said Robert Watson, an NRDC senior scientist and co-author of the report. "In fact, the evidence shows that China has done more than the United States to combat global warming over the last decade. The president should stop hiding behind China's skirts as an excuse for stalling on taking action on global warming."

NRDC's study found that China has aggressively moved to reduce its reliance on burning coal, a primary cause of global warming. For example, it has phased out all coal subsidies. It has ordered the closure of 25,000 coal mines. It has closed inefficient coal-fired electric plants. The result: China's coal consumption declined by 411 million short tons since 1996, according to U.S. Department of Energy statistics. U.S. coal consumption increased by 40 million short tons over the same time period.

"President Bush says he is serious about addressing global warming, but his own energy plan would increase our reliance on coal, while his proposed budget would cut the heart out of federal energy efficiency programs," Watson added. "The United States, as the world's only remaining superpower, has to get its house in order before it starts pointing fingers at China."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Related NRDC Pages
China is Aggressively Reducing Its Carbon Dioxide Emissions