If you want to understand why an international climate agreement like the Kyoto Protocol is hopeless, and especially why the Chinese say over and over again that they will not agree to any serious limit on the growth in their greenhouse gas emissions, have a look at the 25-second video below, which shows United States and Chinese total energy consumption, measured in BTUs, from 1980 and projected out to the year 2035. Although it is true that China has announced that it will attempt to improve its energy intensity (that is, the amount of energy used per dollar of economic output–currently China uses about five times as much energy per dollar of output than the U.S.), total Chinese energy use is going to be nearly twice U.S. energy use in another 25 years.
Note especially how China’s energy use takes off like a skyrocket right after the year 2000. I’ve been playing around with the Googledocs “gadget” function to generate motion graphic charts like this. The data are from the recent BP 2011 Statistical Review of World Energy, and projections from the Energy Information Administration.
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