OPINION: China leads way on emissions

LAST year, in Colorado, I met up with Hunter Lovins from Natural Capital Solutions.
Shanghai night field

His company is prominent in sustainability, energy efficiency and creating the next industrial revolution.

Hunter was upbeat about emissions trading schemes and spoke of how Australia was a leader but that China, Quebec, California and Brazil were not far behind.

China has now announced a trial carbon trading market, starting this month, which will be huge.

However, there are many in Australian politics who are determined to abolish our carbon trading scheme.

China has also announced massive reduction targets and expects to reach its carbon emissions peak by 2025.

In contrast, Australia uses three times as much energy per person compared to China.

Australia has to do more than just plant some trees and research the effects of carbon in soil strategies to be credible in a warming world.

Coal in China is a significant source of energy. It is used in homes, factories, power stations and by street vendors.

The smell of sulphur and the ever-present smog affects many cities and a massive area of the country. Modern Beijing is a magnificent city with wide boulevards and great architecture.

However, the health and smog problems are terrible, with estimates of up to 1million people affected in China annually by air pollution.

Australia is going to have real difficulties if it abolishes carbon trading just as our major export partner starts a scheme.

China is important to Australia and it is not that long ago that some of our leaders were arguing against carbon trading due to claims that China was taking no action.

Where are these people now? Why don’t they explain their strategy now that China has announced a trial carbon market?

Again we see that, while coal miners and governments argue about the economic impacts of taking action on carbon pollution, it is people, not profits, that must be the priority.

Everyone is entitled to be assured of good health, a safe environment and the well-being of their children. China’s leaders are taking action on a massive scale. They are also devising low-cost manufacturing for renewable energy with improved solar technology.

It will be a sad indictment of Australia’s politicians if their only response to atmospheric warming is to point to an ever diminishing circle of like-minded nations who do not have a trading scheme.

John Asquith is chairman of the Community Environment Network

The chimneys from a coal-burning power station are seen on the outskirts of Beijing.