President Barack Obama (right) walks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Sunnylands estate on 8 June 2013 in Rancho Mirage, California. During their staged walk for the press, Obama told reporters his meetings with Xi have been 'terrific.' The issue of cyber espionage hangs over the summit, although both leaders carefully avoided accusing each other of the practice. Photo: AP Photo

By David Biello
11 June 2013

(Scientific American) – Here's the scam. A Chinese company manufactures hydrofluorocarbons, the refrigerant gases responsible for the ozone hole and climate change. The gases can efficiently be turned into cash, either by using them in products like refrigerators or air conditioners or, more lucratively, by destroying them. In the early part of the last decade, Chinese manufacturers of HFCs made more and more of them--more than necessary for use even in the rapidly growing Communist country--because the international market for buying and selling the right to pollute with greenhouse gases awarded credits for their destruction. The gas could be made more cheaply--and then destroyed--than the carbon credits that resulted from their destruction were worth. All told, Chinese manufacturers netted billions of dollars in profits from an international effort meant to pay for developing countries to reduce pollution via projects such as preventing forests from being cut down or building more expensive renewable energy projects.

So when the Chinese agree to phase out HFCs, as their President Xi Jinping apparently did with U.S. President Barack Obama, they should be applauded--and shamed. Such cons are the most insidious reason why the world is not on track to restrain global warming to just 2 degrees Celsius, and could see average temperatures more than 5 degrees C higher if more efforts are not made.

In 2012, greenhouse gas pollution of all kinds, but particularly carbon dioxide, set another all-time record. The International Energy Agency estimates that CO2 levels hit 31.6 million metric tons last year, which also helped concentrations in the atmosphere touch 400 parts-per-million this spring. And while China saw the smallest increase in its emissions in a decade--just 300 million metric tons--that is still nearly half of the global increase and more than the emissions of Poland in total.

So it is good news that Obama and Xi could agree to do something about such pollution in their shirt sleeves this past weekend. Though the exact details have yet to be worked out or agreed, the two countries pledged to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons. If joined by all the other countries that still employ HFCs, the equivalent of roughly three years worth of global emissions from fossil fuel burning could be avoided--some 90 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent.

Of course, the agreement is for a gradual phaseout so those two years worth of emissions will be saved in bits and pieces over the next 30 years. And, remember, much of China's HFCs are the result of the aforementioned long-running scam. Now that the jig is up on that particular scam, the Chinese are seemingly happy to commit to a gradual phaseout of the use of the refrigerant chemical--a concession the country, along with India, had been resisting for the last decade. For all that time, there have been replacements available. Capitalism trumps the environment, even if you are a Chinese communist party member. [more]

Who Is Fooling Who When It Comes to Combating Climate Change?


  1. Anonymous said...

    This sort of bait-and-switch technique for profit is very common and applies to most things within civilization, including business, politics, development, industry and human activity.

    Essentially, everything humans do impacts the environment in a very negative way. Then, profit "incentives" are created to impact it all over again in a different way, creating even more problems. The "solution" then becomes another cause. This is repeated endlessly, until there is no more profits or places to practice this destructive stupidity.

    Offshore sourcing of jobs is one huge example. American corporations in quest for higher profits exported manufacturing to foreign countries. This also permitted them to get around environmental controls and regulations while paying far lower wages. Americans were gutted by this. Now we are nothing more then a consumer economy, buying virtually everything foreign made. Our "job" is to consume now.

    This created staggering toxic waste dumps in 3rd world countries that have utterly destroyed the environment. American corporations "don't feel responsible" for any of this, but they are.

    Politics gets in on the act and levies tariffs and taxes, passing legislation on what can be imported, exported, how much, how little, etc. Biggest example is the defense industry, the ONLY thing Americans make any more (weapons of death and destruction, which we now sell all over the world). Can't have the little people learn how to do this themselves lest they turn against us and rend us to pieces, so we still keep this activity "in house" and amount our "friends" (Israel, France, Germany, Russia - all the major arms dealers).

    Weapons of destruction are now America's greatest export now. Along with weapons shipments, we include our sons and daughters - to go to the very countries where American corporations have setup shop (or want to), "protecting America's interests" - an oxymoron that really means "we're in business here and we will kill you to do it".

    We also dump our extremely toxic metals and chemicals on these countries, in the form of bombs and chemical weapons, or by simply paying them to accept our trash and garbage and chemical waste (or we just dump it in the ocean when nobody's looking).

    There are thousands upon thousands of such examples of human stupidity on a global scale. Then we devolve into stupid arguments about "why it's not working anymore", which really means "how can we continue to make money while we destroy the planet even further". Greed rules the day, always, and always will as long as we tread upon this fragile planet. Then when the climate swings wildly from the norm, people start dying or coming up with diseases, cancers or birth defects, we start the arguments all over again - while changing nothing. Just more finger pointing, more name calling, more legislation, more boycotts or "favored" status, more incentives (back door profits) and NEVER, EVER address the root problem of what we are DOING.

    Very easy to see where this is all going and what will happen. (continued)  

  2. Anonymous said...


    Humans a VERY stupid, a race of supposedly intelligent beings that destroy everything that they touch and then point fingers at all the duplicity taking place while doing it themselves.

    We're incapable of learning and changing our ways. The profit paradigm is now how we live and make our existence. We never question that this is the root of our evil. There is no discussion, no consideration, no contemplation, no nothing - unless it includes how to remain profitable, which is the same thing as incessant "growth". Growth is the ONLY thing profiteers understand.

    We've unleashed a terrifying monster, a gobbling Godzilla that will wreak havoc throughout the world for tens of thousands of years now. We have brought all of this upon ourselves in a childish fit of "having it our way" with zero respect for the place we call home, planet Earth. It never even occurred to us that it could bite back, or that we would die a slow, agonizing death in our own toxic wastes while starving to death.

    Our insatiable greed, destructive creativity and incredible arrogance as the "preeminent life" on this planet (and the only one that "matters") has resulted in every single ecosystem collapsing around us.

    Grandstanding politicians understand absolutely nothing of this, being bought and paid for by corporate interests and the monied families that control this planet. Photo opportunities are meant to continue fooling the rolling masses of hungry humans who will continue to devour the very last jelly fish, the last sardine, the last algae farm while breeding and overpopulating the planet even more. The very sky and soil will become so toxic, so hostile, that all life on Earth will be wiped out (is being wiped out) because of our insatiable greed and stupidity.

    There can only be one final outcome to all of this. The reasons are many, but they are also quite obvious. All such efforts to "reform" our ways have utterly failed. It's all just bait-and-switch techniques, and finger pointing on who is currently "to blame", but never is the root problem addressed.

    Our civilization and method of living and profit oriented "development" is the cause of all of our evils, which are deeply rooted in our notions of life and existence now (but it wasn't always this way with us). All this must be abandoned in favor of any possible human future on this planet, which of course will never happen.

    When we abandoned living simply, we set the whole world on path of destruction. Every "solution" that you will see or read about has the fine print still found within it that says "growth", "profits", "more" and "lifestyle". All we are doing is looking at ways to extract even more and more while hiding our activity and pretending we're "helping" when we are actually making things worse. This is what the "green movement" is doing. This is what industry is doing. This is what the alternative energy movement is doing. This is what politicians are doing. This is what business is doing. Everybody is doing it, nobody even has the guts to question any of it.

    Very easy to see where this is all going and what will happen. We're going to destroy everything, including ourselves. This is easily foretold by what we are doing and our inability to stop. It's not science, it's psychology and sociology. Science has both tried to save us and helped destroy us at the same time, but it can't solve our human problem of self-destruction or protect the planet from our activity.

    Once we destroy enough, we will destroy ourselves in a fit of self-righteous anger and childish wrath, unleashing a further hell on Earth. We've made very sure of that, arming ourselves beyond measure to "defend" our way of life, even if it means we must destroy what little that's left. ~Survival Acres~  

  3. Anonymous said...

    More evidence of the hopium, ie, who is fooling who:

    Rich Chinese export pollution to poorer regions

    For immediate release

    By Tim Radford

    A scheme to reduce emissions from polluting factories in China’s richer provinces by imposing limits on them has resulted in shifting mucky plants to less prosperous places with fewer rules.

    LONDON, 11 June - Just as rich nations have passed the responsibility for carbon dioxide emissions to the developing nations, so the rich provinces of China have exported the problem to the poorest regions, according to new research.

    The world’s biggest single emitter of the greenhouse gas – 10 billion tonnes in 2011 – has undertaken to reduce the “carbon intensity” of its economy. But, according to Klaus Hubacek of the University of Maryland and colleagues, the richest and most sophisticated regions of China with the most stringent and specific pollution abatement targets, are buying manufactured goods from places like Inner Mongolia, a poorer region where targets are less constraining.

    “This is regrettable, because the cheapest and easiest reductions – the low-hanging fruit – are in the interior provinces, where modest technological improvements could make a huge difference in emissions,” said Steven Davis of the University of California, Irvine, and one of the authors.

    “Richer areas have much tougher targets, so it’s easier for them just to buy goods made elsewhere. A nationwide target that tracks emissions embodied in trade would go a long way towards solving the problem. But that’s not what’s happening.”

    Klaus Hubacek, his colleague Laixiang Sun, Dr Davis and five others report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they examined China’s output and emissions in 2007 in 57 industry sectors across 26 provinces and four cities.

    Exporting pollution

    In that year, China’s emissions totalled more than 7 billion tonnes, of which more than half came from fossil fuels burned to make goods and services that were consumed either in other parts of China, or beyond China’s borders to 107 countries.

    In effect, the authors provided a geography of China’s internal trade. More than 75% of the emissions associated with the goods consumed in Beijing-Tianjin – one of the three most affluent regions – were pumped into the air in other provinces.

    In 2009, at a UN conference in Copenhagen, China undertook to reduce the carbon dependence of its economy by lowering CO2 emissions per unit of gross domestic product from 2010 levels by 17% by 2015. This would be achieved by imposing 19% reductions in the affluent east coast provinces, and 10% in the less developed west.

    The implication is that emissions-reducing policies tend to push factories and production into regions where costs are lower, and pollution standards less stringent.

    “We must reduce CO2 emissions, not just outsource them,” said Professor Sun. “Developed regions and countries need to take some responsibility, providing technology support or investment to promote cleaner, greener technology in less developed regions.”

    The authors say “Our results demonstrate the economic interdependence of Chinese provinces, while also highlighting the enormous differences in wealth, economic structure, and fuel mix that drive imbalances in interprovincial trade and the emission embodied in trade.” ~Survival Acres~  

  4. gail zawacki said...

    Hi Admin, I agree with you completely except for this:

    but it wasn't always this way with us

    It was always this way. The difference is scale, and access to technology, not intent. When people who live simply are given the change to consume more, they almost invariably do. It's in our nature.

    If you feel like reading you could check out part I and II, makes sense to me:

    It might make you feel better to know that we just can't help ourselves...or maybe not. It helps with the anger to know that collectively, we're just doing what top predators do.  


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