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China's climate change paradox -

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While China and its huge appetite for coal remains part of the problem for many environmentalists
at the Copenhagen climate talks, it is also set to become the world's biggest producer of wind
power.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: The United States and China will be crucial to any agreement reached in
Copenhagen.

And one of the sticking points for China has been allowing international verification of its carbon
dioxide emissions, although it now appears to be relenting on that point.

China has a voracious appetite for coal, it's already the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse
gases, but it's also set to become the biggest producer of wind power.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas reports.

DAMIAN GRAMMATICAS, REPORTER: Rising from the bowels of the Earth, giant trucks laden with coal.
The enormous mine they're digging at Pinchow must be one of the biggest man-made holes in the
planet. It's the source of many of today's carbon emissions. To alter climate change, you have to
alter this.

China's massive use of coal is what makes this country the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in
the world today. The real question is what happens in the next 20 to 30 years, because China's use
of coal could double or even triple, and if it does, what every other nation does about climate
change may not matter if China doesn't clean up its act.

Already almost half the coal mined on the planet is dug from the ground in China. The nearby power
station burns 20,000 tonnes of coal a day. The fuel provides two thirds of all China's energy.

And as China gets richer, energy use is soaring.

Today perhaps one third of China's billion-plus people live like this. The rest aspire to it.

Four-hundred-and-fifty million more Chinese will move to the cities in the coming 30 years. Here
carbon emissions per head already rival the West, and as emissions keep rising, every single
Chinese person may be emitting more on average than every European in little more than a decade.

PAN JIAHUA, CHINESE GOVERNMENT ADVISER (voiceover translation): We need to develop so we need lots
of energy. We should be allowed to emit more than the rich world. Eventually it'll stabilise and
all countries will emit about the same per person.

DAMIAN GRAMMATICAS: Searching for clean energy, China says it wants to lead the world in green
technologies. In its western deserts, it's busy building the world's biggest wind farms. The scale
of what's happening dwarfs anything in Europe or America.

Yung Shu Hau's turbines are part of a project to produce as much electricity as 16 coal-fired power
stations. But when the winds drop, the turbines slow. It's clear wind can't be relied on the way
coal can. And if a billion Chinese end up emitting more per head than Europeans, the future for
climate change could be bleak.