From The Age – 18 August 2010 – The Chinese government last week ordered its most outdated, carbon-intensive cement works and steel mills to shut down by the end of September, told 22 provinces to stop discounting the price of electricity to aluminium smelters and that it would set up a carbon trading scheme within five years, writes Adam Morton.

Here’s his story: Let’s try a round of word association. China on climate change. What’s the first thing that comes to mind? For those paying passing attention to what qualifies as a climate change debate in Australia, the answer is likely to be: villain-in-chief.

Since 2006, the emerging giant has emitted more greenhouse gas than any other country. Its emissions have risen rapidly as a nation of more than a billion people dragged itself from poverty.

Worse, at the Copenhagen climate summit, China blocked a target of cutting global emissions in half by 2050, and showed disdain for the process by sending bureaucrats to sit alongside Barack Obama and Kevin Rudd at a leaders’ meeting, while Premier Wen Jintao cooled his heels back at the hotel.

Beijing took a whack for its role in helping derail the UN conference, and deserved it. But don’t confuse obstruction at the floundering negotiations with a lack of action on climate change at home.

A series of announcements over the past month underlines what Ross Garnaut has been saying for a while – that China is miles ahead of Australia on the path to a greener economy, and the gap is widening.

Quietly and without fuss, the Chinese government last week published a list of 2087 of the country’s most outdated, carbon-intensive factories – mainly cement works and steel mills. All have been ordered to shut by the end of September.

Beijing’s economic planning agency also told 22 provinces to stop discounting the price of electricity to energy-hungry industries such as aluminium smelters. Two weeks earlier, an official from the Chinese National Energy Administration signalled it may cap coal production by 2015 to cut reliance on fossil fuels. Read the whole story>>>