“No China, we just discovered climate change, you’re not allowed to finish your industrial revolution.”
Coal is dirty, coal emits a lot of CO2 per unit of energy. Coal is also cheap. And when you’re looking at the growth rates seen in China and India, cheap is important.
It’s been my opinion for some time that human society will never curb its CO2 emissions fast enough to have a measurable impact on the negative effects that are to come in the next 50-100 years. And rapid economic growth in China and India is one of the reasons. It’s not reasonable for us to suddenly decide we can deny economic emergence to a quarter of the world’s population.
The United States has actually been reducing their emissions over the last 3-5 years, due in large part to displacing coal with natural gas. But it has had almost no effect on worldwide emissions.
EDIT: Sobering data from the EIA to bring this point home: http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=16271&src=email