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While the U.S. has pledged binding emissions cuts, China, the world's largest emitter refuses to do so.  (Source: Daily Mail)

China's wild plan claims it will make even bigger cuts in the U.S. -- only it will wait a few years before cutting emissions at all. Its plan is also entirely on a "voluntary" basis.  (Source: CE Journal)
China refuses U.S. request to set definite targets, should U.S. stick to its own plan?

While it is unknown definitively whether manmade greenhouse gases are playing a role in climate change, or exactly what that role may be, many scientists and politicians support early studies which suggest a link between carbon dioxide emissions and a global warming trend.  They want the international community to band together to make drastic cuts to the global CO2budget.  The only problem is that those cuts are far from cheap; rather they may cost trillions of dollars.

The U.S. has already committed to rather stringent emissions cuts.  President Obama has pledged that the U.S. will cut cut 17 percent of its emissions by 2020 (with regards to 2005 levels), 30 percent reduction by 2025, 42 percent by 2030, and 83 percent by 2050.  

Those cuts will have a major impact on the world emissions picture, as the U.S. is the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases.  However, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases, China, has been reticent to commit to a solid goal of any kind, saying that it prefers to make "voluntary" commitments.

At Tsinghua University in the Chinese national capitol in Beijing on Wednesday the top U.S. climate negotiator, Todd Stern, was in talks with high level Chinese officials about adopting more binding targets.  

Stern, fresh off an grueling run at Copenhagen, spoke to reporters, stating, "With respect to the issue of transparency, I think it's hugely important and we do put a lot of emphasis on it.  Countries need to be able to see what track the world is on generally, where we are going.  The only way we can do that is if there are clear and transparent measures with respect to the inventories of greenhouse gases, what measures are being put in place by countries and so forth."

The greenhouse gas talks with China are part of a longer series of talks concerning economic cooperation and strategic cooperation, particularly on touchy issues like the recent attack by North Korean on a South Korean vessel.  When it comes to climate the U.S., for all its efforts, may be unable to convince China to adopt a binding resolution.

Beijing's emission plan is rather bizarre, and according to some, impossible.  The nation plans to allow emissions to climb for several more years before dramatically turning the corner, and by 2020 reducing emissions 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels.  So in other words, Beijing thinks it can accomplish what the U.S. is doing 
and far more in a far shorter time frame, on a voluntary basis.

Of course, what the U.S. worries about is that China won't even match the U.S. pledge by the time 2020 rolls around, because there's no binding commitment.  If China misses its target, it's no big deal -- it was voluntary in the first place.  And China has already argued in the past that it should get its chance to grow rampantly and pursue the cheapest path to expansion -- regardless of emissions -- because Western nations already had the chance to do so.  This long-standing rhetoric clashes with the nation's promises, and makes their voluntary nature all the more suspect.

Still, China and the U.S. hope to be closer to seeing eye-to-eye on the climate issue by November, when the next round of UN climate talks are held in Cancun, Mexico.  In the meantime, the U.S. has to consider its own emissions goals and how it plans to meet them.  While the issue of China is concerning to U.S. officials, surely a bigger concern is how to effectively cut the U.S.'s carbon output without doing billions in damage to the nation's economy in the process.



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RE: Not surprising
By theArchMichael on 5/27/2010 12:45:06 PM , Rating: 2
There's two additional factors to consider here though.
-> If it's an eye for an eye then let's come up with a quantitative number for the amount of pollution that was actually generated and offset that number with a grading for level of pollution intesity (under the assumption that dumping mercury into a river is not the same as dumping the same amount of dioxins).
In 1900 the United States had about 80 million people. China now has more than 1 billion, with much resources used and good produced at much faster rates.
My point being, if China wants the leeway of being able to pollute as much as US did, I think they'll run through that pretty fast, if they have not already exceeded it.

-> China has a strong manufacturing base, tons of money (they buy our debt), a CRAZY political situation where they are allowed to manipulate their currency, a space program and access to a wealth of technologies. They are a "second world" country because of their draconian methods of controlling and exploiting their population and also their lack of oversight of the "free market" as it exists there.


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