International carbon funds should be aggressively directed towards helping China avoid the use of carbon-rich technologies, say Ning Zeng and colleagues in this Science article.
Action is needed despite significant gains in energy efficiency, they note, because based on current economic growth rates and levels of carbon intensity (emissions per unit of gross domestic product) China's emissions by 2030 will equal today's entire global output.
International funds could be used to subsidise low-interest loans to energy-efficient buildings, or to pay for technology transfer. Industrialised country research into technologies such as renewable energy and carbon sequestration could be conducted in collaboration with Chinese partners, to ensure their early application.
The authors also recommend that the government set international emissions targets, and the establishment of a carbon tax to fund research in energy efficiency, renewable energy, carbon sequestration and prudent urban design.
China may face the most difficult climate change challenge in the world, but if the country, with international help, could seize the opportunities it could lead the world in sustainable development.
Science, 319, 730 (2008)