How does the “carbon intensity” measure China uses relate to emissions?



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         Carbon intensity is the amount of carbon emitted for each unit of economic output. Carbon output is usually measured in tons while economic output is measured in GDP in local currency. Other greenhouse gasses are added to the total by figuring out how much carbon dioxide would have the equivalent global warming potential. Carbon intensity can be calculated for a single factory or the entire country. 

         China chose to calculate its emissions in carbon intensity in an attempt to balance economic growth with carbon reduction. China worries that to commit to a peak year or level off emissions could interfere with its efforts to reduce poverty and improve living conditions. 

         According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in 2006 China emitted 0.25 tons of carbon dioxide for every US$1,000 of GDP. 

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