What was hailed as an “historic” agreement between China and the United States to curb greenhouse gas emissions has broken down less than one month after it was announced.
China is already using its deal to cap greenhouse gas emissions as leverage to strong arm rich countries into spending $100 billion in “climate aid” to poor countries. Rich countries have so far only given $10 billion for climate aid — including $3 billion from the U.S. — which China says is not enough.
The “$10 billion is just one 10th of that objective,” and “we do not have any clear road map of meeting that target for 2020,” said Su Wei, China’s lead climate negotiator, according to Bloomberg. Su Wei added that global warming aid is “a trust-building process.”
“The significance of the China-U.S. announcement is that there’s a general understanding by the leaders of the two countries that climate change is a real threat,” Su Wei said. “A joint announcement does not necessarily blur the distinction between developed and developing countries. They announced their actions but that was in a different manner.”
Su Wei specifically targeted Australia’s conservative government for not giving any money towards international climate aid. So far the biggest givers of climate aid are the U.S. ($3 billion) and Japan ($1.5 billion).
“It is not good news [about] Australia, if it is true that they refuse to provide any money to the GCF,” Su Wei said, according to Reuters.
Last month, the Obama administration announced it had reached a deal with China to curb greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to fight global warming. President Obama promised to drastically speed up its greenhouse gas reduction plans, pledging cuts of 26 to 28 percent by 2025.
China, on the other hand, only promised to peak its emissions by 2030 — something which some energy analysts said was on track to occur even without a government pledge. China also promised to increase its share of non-fossil fuel energy sources to 20 percent of its power supply by 2030 as well.
Republicans criticized the announcement as being a “non-binding charade” that commits the U.S. to economically harsh cuts while China gets to keep emitting.
“In the President’s climate change deal, the United States will be required to more steeply reduce our carbon emissions while China won’t have to reduce anything,” said Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe, who will take control of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee next year.
“It’s hollow and not believable for China to claim it will shift 20 percent of its energy to non-fossil fuels by 2030, and a promise to peak its carbon emissions only allows the world’s largest economy to buy time,” Inhofe added.
China is the world’s largest user and producer of coal and the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter — the U.S. is the second-largest greenhouse gas emitter. But complaints about poor air quality in urban areas of the country have Chinese officials clamping down on some coal use.
Though after the agreement, China released a plan to limit coal use until 2020 and boost its use of natural gas and coalbed methane. Even under this plan, however, coal use will continue to grow.
“The share of natural gas will be raised to above 10 percent and that of coal will be reduced to under 62 percent,” according to China’s State Council. “Production of both shale gas and coalbed methane could reach 30 billion cubic meters by 2020.”
“Annual coal consumption will be held below 4.2 billion tonnes until 2020, 16.3 percent more than the 3.6 billion tonnes burned last year,” the State Council reports.
“China builds a coal-fired power plant every 10 days and is the largest importer of coal in the world. This deal is a non-binding charade,” Inhofe said. “The American people spoke against the President’s climate policies in this last election. They want affordable energy and more economic opportunity, both which are being diminished by overbearing EPA mandates.”
Su Wei did say that China would work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for every dollar of gross domestic product, reports Bloomberg. But his calls for emissions cuts were couched in calls for more climate aid to help developing countries adapt to global warming.
“We would redouble our efforts in terms of taking actions on climate change for the period up to 2020 and we would markedly reduce the carbon intensity,” Su Wei told reporters.
Su Wei’s remarks were made during the United Nation’s climate summit in Lima, Peru. The Lima conference is supposed to help set the stage for the next major summit in Paris, France in 2015 where diplomats will debate a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol.
But questions over climate aid have derailed negotiations in the past and it’s unclear if that will be the case in 2015.
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