President Obama has designed a climate change plan that will not need the help of Congress, and will allow the US to lead the world into a greener future. Yet the truth is that no matter what he does the global impact will be fairly insignificant without the cooperation of China.
According to the EIA, China, the world’s largest producer of carbon emissions, accounted from more than 25% of global emissions in 2011, whereas the US emitted less than 17%. And whilst the US emissions have been falling since 2005, China’s are still increasing, with the Rhodium Group estimating they rose by 3.4% in 2012.
For his climate policies to have the desired affect, Obama must convince developing countries, such as China and India, to reduce their emissions, at the same time as convincing the developed world to reduce fossil fuel consumption. His best opportunity will be at the 2015 UN Climate Conference.
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Obama stated, “what we need is an agreement that's ambitious -- because that's what the scale of the challenge demands,” but that is also “flexible -- because different nations have different needs.”
When such proposals have been made in the past China has always argued that developing economies should not be held to the same rigours as developed nations in Europe and North America; although considering the state of European economies at the moment compared to the constantly growing giant that is China’s economy, maybe that argument doesn’t seem as strong as it used to.
The Atlantic wrote that some “stories in the The Financial Times and The Independent suggested the government was ready to commit to a nationwide cap on carbon by 2016. But its top climate negotiator, Su Wei, quickly wrote off the reports. And Wei has previously said that China's emissions will continue rising until its per capita gross domestic product is five times larger than it is today. “
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com