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Since nobody can track twigs and cowpats, China's carbon accountants can make its renewable numbers come out anywhere they like.
China's climate games
But China's 'free pass' was at risk of being revoked at Copenhagen. There has in recent months been a movement to 'decouple' China from the category of other developing nations, given the perception that it was better placed -- as the world's third largest economy, and the fastest growing major economy -- to contribute to mitigation efforts. Other developing nations, including India, were to be made primary beneficiaries for international funding to support clean-energy and other climate-change mitigation efforts.
It may perhaps have been unflattering to India to be retained in the category of 'developing economies' and to see China being 'promoted' to the league of developed economies that were required to fund their own clean-energy initiatives. But it's reflective of some realities: China's economy is over three times bigger than India's. And such an arrangement would've rightly 'penalised' China, on course to be the world's biggest polluter.
It was to avert this eventuality that China moved fast, roping India into its stratagem . In October, when India's environment minister Jairam Ramesh went public with his stand that India mustagree to some emission reduction targets, China sensed a breaking of the developing economies' ranks.
Commentary in India naively misinterpreted this as a manifestation of China's commitment to the cause of developing economies. They were doubly dumbfounded, therefore, when last fortnight China announced a voluntary pledge to trim its carbon intensity by 40 to 45% by 2020. That claim was well received by those who couldn't see that it was a smokescreen. It's been estimated that even with a 40% cut in carbon intensity, China's emissions in the absolute sense will increase by over 200% by 2020.