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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 10:59:32 PM , Rating: 0
There is a reason why the heaviest polluting countries are among the poorest on Earth. India anyone?

The ciafactbook lists india as the 5th largest economy by GDP when factoring ICP price surveys. It's also maintained an average of 7% growth year over year. There are also two Indians on the Forbes top ten richest people.

China knows it cannot afford to go "green".

China is already "green" in the sense that it manages about $2.4 trillion dollars in foreign debt, reportedly mostly in dollars and euros.

The way these countries manage their distribution of wealth, social stratification and civil liberties is most likely the cause of your confusion as to how much power they command. You can think what you will, but "poorest on Earth" they are not.

Its also interesting that 7 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world (by atmospheric particulate matter) are in... India and China. I'm sure setting enforcable emissions standards of any kind that would help modernize industry in those cities would be a welcome treat to their citizens.

But make no mistake, you cannot have a roaring and thriving economy, and also have Kyoto style super restrictive national emissions regulating policies. It's never worked anywhere in the world.

Firstly, by "roaring" and "thriving" economy, I hope you're not suggesting that we adopt the policies and methods of the Indian and Chinese government. I guess we could have 9% growth rate too, but at what cost?

Secondly, I think it's your absolute certainty that is most disheartening. America is the most powerful nation on Earth across many indices. Its expected for us to take the lead. First in public education, first all volunteer army, etc..
If something like this happens, you've already conceded that their will be job growth in "green" sectors, and i'm not talking about the shitty jobs stocking shelves at some "superstore", or getting black lung in a mine in PA. Engineering jobs, technicians, HT manufacturing, HT research, trainers, hot secretaries for the aforementioned, etc..

I think that both sides of the emissions argument have merit. But I think you don't have the knowledge or authority to state definitively what will "never" work and what "cannot" be done. It occurs to mean that you may be the one with all the idealistic hangups.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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