Special advisor at The Governance Group, researcher at the University of Oslo
A large part of China’s coal consumption has been used to produce goods for the rest of the world. Few countries have benefited more than Norway from this development.
This is a chronicle. Opinions in the text are the responsibility of the writer.
If China is not successful in its green transition, the world will not be successful in the climate fight. Joe Biden chided China for not appearing at the Glasgow climate summit.
The problem is not that Xi Jinping chose to stay home, but that the climate summit confirmed the inability of the rich to take responsibility. This is well illustrated when Joe Biden cannot comment on the phase-out of coal production in the United States, and when our own Prime Minister does not mention the phase-out of the oil industry in one word in his opening speech.
It’s easy to make China a scapegoat. The country emits the highest amount of CO2 in the world and accounts for around 30 percent of global CO2 emissions. The United States is in a good second place with just under half of China’s share of global emissions. But when neither the United States, China, nor India in Glasgow joined a deal to phase out coal by 2030, some significant differences are worth noting.
US gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is about US $ 63,000. Norway is located here approx. $ 4,000 more than in the United States. China’s GDP pr. per capita is less than one sixth of the United States, while China has around 600 million people with an income of less than 1,300 NOK per month. In other words, China has a population almost twice as large as the total population of the United States, which barely has money for the most basic necessities. The United States has the largest economy in the world and is a leading industrial country.
India has a GDP per capita. per capita, which represents less than one thirteenth of that of Norway. A large proportion of India’s 1.3 billion people live in poverty.
Emissions measurements favor the wealthiest
Are we looking at CO2 emissions by. per capita, the United States emits roughly twice that of China and eight times more than India. Norway’s emissions per capita is roughly at the same level as China.
If we look at historical emissions, the main reason for the current critical situation, the United States is far ahead of the rest, calculated from 1850, the initial phase of American industrialization. If we calculate the historical emissions by. per capita, the United States and the European Union are miles above China, while India barely appears in the statistics.
A clearer recognition of the responsibility of the “old” polluters is essential to achieve trust and cooperation in a world marked by polarization.
A large part of China’s coal consumption has been used to produce goods for the rest of the world. For decades, American and European companies have increased their profits by moving production to China and low-cost countries. This has given us cheaper products and, not least, lower emissions in our part of the world.
When we only measure emissions that occur where goods are produced, and not where they are used, the United States and European countries save significant emissions at home through the importation of goods.
Norway makes a lot of money “as usual”
Norway gets away with being responsible for production emissions from the oil and gas industry only within its own national borders. If we were to include emissions from the oil and gas we export, Norway’s emissions would be about ten times higher. Norway would then be at the absolute top of the world in terms of emissions per year. habitant.
When it comes to a large part of the goods we import, such as clothing, electronics and other consumer goods, the emissions remain in the country of production. Furthermore, China’s enormous energy needs as a “global factory” have led to consistently high oil prices in recent decades. This is an important factor in the size of our oil fund.
Few countries in the world have benefited more than Norway from particularly unsustainable development, where the relocation of production to low-cost countries has resulted in huge but cheap consumption in the world’s industrialized countries.
China is noticing climate change
China will peak emissions by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2060. Many have wanted even more ambitious Chinese targets, but the challenges are great. In several Chinese provinces, both factory owners and parts of the population have suffered power outages. The scope of the measures we are now seeing in China to save energy illustrates a serious energy crisis, but also that China is serious about climate policy.
China’s local party leaders are now measuring themselves by the extent to which they are able to balance considerations of economic growth, on the one hand, and electricity rationing for industry and the population, on the other. The population is experiencing climate change in the form of extreme weather, flooding, and destruction near the body.
Crisis management, whether in the environment, housing bubbles, or pandemics, is crucial to the legitimacy of the Communist Party. Therefore, it is a high priority for China’s leaders to meet the goals set in climate policy.
Norway is avoiding scorching measures
In China and India, more than a billion people have yet to lift themselves out of poverty and a fragile standard of living. When China now for a period increases the coal production capacity, there are several hundred million Chinese to keep warm when winter comes and still have electricity to produce our Christmas gifts.
It is not about reluctance to take responsibility in the climate fight. As President Biden said, climate change is not a hypothetical threat. Few know this better than the people of various developing countries affected by climate change without having the economic leeway to adapt.
In Glasgow, Jonas Gahr Støre was more concerned with talking about anything other than concrete measures to phase out the oil industry. For Støre, the global climate fight is not critical enough that Norway needs to actively phase out oil while contributing solutions for the world’s transition to renewable solutions. It is supported in abundance with the latter.
This makes it difficult to interpret Støre in any way other than that he has a considerable aversion to both responsibility and change.
If richer countries continue to shy away from measures that hurt at home, it may come as no surprise that more heads of state will be absent from future climate summits.