Why China can't make bold carbon pledges: Rogue provinces

During his recent visit to China, U.S. President Barack Obama pushed hard for a firm target for cutting carbon emissions from the Chinese government. He had hoped to secure a concrete, detailed proposal from the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases ahead of the pending Copenhagen Climate Summit in December. But China has delivered a watered-down guarantee that the Obama team publicly praised but privately trashed.

According to The New York Times, the Chinese proposed to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of economic output by 40% to 45% by 2020. That would slow the growth rate of carbon emissions for China, for sure. But due to the country's rapid economic growth rate, aggregate carbon emissions would continue to increase.