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The Great Pall of China

Climate change and global warming are, literally, the "hot" topics of 2007. Everywhere one looks there are predictions of dire consequences if the people on this planet do not do something positive to arrest the myriad of issues facing us all. There are already signs of problems arising here and there. Bangladesh is a case in point.

The Independent today publishes a sobering picture of what is happening in China under the headline "The Great Pall of China":

"In a seismic shift for the world, China will overtake the United States as the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases this year, far earlier than thought - and present the problem of tackling climate change in even more difficult terms.

The Chinese economy, which is now growing at the unprecedented rate of 11 per cent annually, is sending carbon emissions from China's mushrooming coal-fired power stations beyond those of the whole of the US, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said yesterday.

Less than three years ago the Paris-based IEA forecast that China would overtake the US as the world's biggest polluter - but not before 2025. More recently it said that China would be first by 2010.

Now, however, the growth of its economy (10 per cent annually for the past three years and now higher) and its underlying power sector are such, said the Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, that the Chinese are expected to overtake the Americans this year.

IEA estimates that the Chinese, who in 2006 are thought to have emitted about 5,600 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the Americans' 5,900, will this year emit about 6,020 million tonnes of CO2 to about 5,910 from the US. (Britain by contrast emits about 550 million tonnes.) It is these emissions from around the world which are causing the atmosphere to warm, with potentially disastrous consequences."

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