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SC41

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April 19, 2007 06:04PM
http://www.stuff.co.nz/4031479a12.html

China will overtake the United States as the world's biggest emitter of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) either this year or next, the International Energy Agency has said.

The estimate is much firmer than the IEA's previous forecast, last November, that on current trends China would overtake the United States before 2010.

"Either this year or next year," IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol told Reuters, in answer to the question of when China would overtake the United States.

Chinese officials point to their country's relatively low per capita emissions of greenhouse gases, saying historically the main culprits are developed nations, who have no right to deny economic growth to others.

UN data for 2003 put the United States top with 23 per cent of world carbon dioxide emissions and China second on 16.5 per cent. US individuals were far bigger emitters, at 20 tonnes per capita against China's 3.2 tonnes and a world average of 3.7.

But China is catching up quick and is having to try to balance 10 per cent annual economic growth with environmental and energy supply issues.

Latest data shows China is building a coal-fired power plant EVERY FOUR DAYS, British foreign ministry official John Ashton said on Monday.
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