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China's Path Towards Low Carbon Development

China's rapid development has been a cause for concern for environmentalists. As China's more then 1.3 billion people find owning refrigerators, TVs, and other electronic devices part of the new norm, their use of electricity sky rockets. The big development question is how to allow poorer communities the advantages of wealthier communities without adding to climate change problems.

"In 1990 about 25% of coal production was used in electric utilities and by 2006 that share had grown to about 50%. This has serious implications for sustainable growth, depletion of coal resources and the global environment... China's coal usage from a 6.5% growth in GDP would produce about 14.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2025, which could be double the US carbon dioxide emissions in that year.

"(A) study of Renmin University of China argues that the county has had no other choice but to shift to a low carbon development path as it continues to urbanise. Low carbon model might bring temporary risk such as job losses, higher prices and fiscal revenue shortfalls. But advantages could include long-lasting green job opportunities, greater competitiveness in new technology, technological innovation, improved standing in the world and reduced harm to human and the protection of vital ecosystems."

Implications:

"China will have imminent impact on the world, either as competitors for energy resources, or suppliers of new sources of energy and technologies."

"Low carbon development" may become the new buzz term in development, environment, and policy circles alike in the next decade. Drastically shifting priorities and begging the question if development is a right or a privilege. We may see a renewed backlash against development as it will be seen having a direct affect on the comfortable living long associated with being in the global north.

Building a low carbon infrastructure will be a major challenge for a low carbon development plan "because delaying action would lock the region into a long-lasting high-carbon infrastructure." Developing countries will need financial support to build this infrastructure.

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