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Abstract

Recent growth in carbon dioxide emissions from China’s energy sector has exceeded expectations. In a major US government study of future emissions released in 2007 (1), participating models appear to have substantially underestimated the near-term rate of increase in China’s emissions. We present a recalibration of one of those models to be consistent with both current observations and historical development patterns. The implications of the new specification for the feasibility of commonly discussed stabilization targets, particularly when considering incomplete global participation, are profound. Unless China’s emissions begin to depart soon from their (newly projected) business-as-usual path, stringent stabilization goals may be unattainable. The current round of global policy negotiations must engage China and other developing countries, not to the exclusion of emissions reductions in the developed world and possibly with the help of significant financial incentives, if such goals are to be achieved. It is in all nations’ interests to work cooperatively to limit our interference with the global climate.

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