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Smog Blankets Chinese Cities As Carbon Emissions Drop in U.S.

posted on October 25, 2013

The governors of eight states pledged this week to work together to help make their highways more friendly for electric cars, hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles and plug-in hybrids.

Policymakers hope to create charging stations and other fueling infrastructure that would serve 3.3 million of the high-tech vehicles by 2025. Representatives of California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont all signed the agreement.

The goal, of course, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And despite seemingly ever-increasing rhetoric over climate change – and policies designed to fight it – data released this week revealed the United States IS, in fact, curbing its emissions. But in China – yeah, not so much…

Smog Blankets Chinese Cities As Carbon Emissions Drop in U.S.

Heavy smog blanketed northeast China this week, snarling traffic in the world’s most populated nation.

Winter typically brings the worst air pollution to the region of China as the heating season begins. Burning of coal in homes and municipal systems are allowed to start on a specific date.

For the northern city of Harbin, that date was Sunday. And by Monday, visibility was less than 50 yards according to state media.

Some schools were closed because of the conditions. At least 40 flights were cancelled as the air quality was more than 24 times higher than the level considered safe by the World Health Organization.

Similar scenes played out across China’s largest cities where some of the world’s worst smog conditions exist.

The Chinese government has long been indifferent to the environment while pursuing economic development. But recently, anti-pollution efforts have been launched. Last month, China’s cabinet announced plans to reduce dependence on coal to below 65 percent by 2017, but China is still the world’s leader in carbon pollution.

The United States is in second place, but unlike China, U.S. carbon emissions are on the decline.

The Department of Energy said this week the U.S. reduced carbon dioxide pollution by 3.8 percent in 2012, the second largest drop since 1990. The only year with that large of a decline was 2009, when America was locked in the worst recession since the 1930s.

U.S. cars and factories spewed 5.83 billion tons of carbon dioxide last year. That’s down nearly 4 percent from 2011 and it’s the lowest level for U.S. emissions since 1994.

The reduction was attributed to a warmer winter, more efficient cars and the ongoing shift from coal-power to cleaner-burning natural gas to produce electricity.

Carbon dioxide is the chief man-made global warming gas and burning coal produces far more of the pollutant than burning natural gas.

In 1994, coal provided 52 percent of the U.S. power and now it accounts for 37 percent, according to the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center.

Some of the past reductions in emissions came in years of economic downturns. But this latest reduction occurred during a 2.8 percent growth year of gross domestic product and energy use was dropping by more than 2 percent.

An Energy Department economist says this latest drop was clearly not due to a recession but rather increased energy efficiency and an overall reduction in carbon emissions.

Tags: carbon dioxide level China coal Harbin smog U.S. carbon emissions U.S. electrical power