Saturday, November 28, 2009

China's Intensity Target is at Least as Stringent as the US Intensity Target

I'm puzzled by people saying that the Chinese intensity target is just business as usual. Of course, Roger Pielke is skeptical like me that the IEA projection is anything like realistic BAU. Some simple math reveals that the Chinese target is likely a greater intensity cut than that proposed by the US. The US proposes to cut emissions by 17%. In other words emissions will be 83% of the 2005 level by 2020. If the US economy grows by 2.5% per year then its economy will be 44% larger in 2020 than in 2005 (both China and the US's proposed base year). Intensity in 2020 is then .83/1.44 = 0.57 which is a 43% cut, right in the middle of the Chinese range. The slower the US grows the less ambitious its target is compared to the Chinese target.

The U.S. economy grew at 2.7% between the end of 1999 and 2007 and as we all know at a "slower" rate since the end of 2007. So 2.5% seems to me like a realistic rate for 2005-2020. We are planning to have more to say about this in February.

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