Bringing China into the Climate Change Fold

The current global financial crisis presents a unique opportunity for the United States and China to strike a deal that would lay the groundwork for a global climate agreement. With US oil demand down 5% as consumers tighten their belts and electricity demand in China down 5% as energy-intensive industries cut output, the goal should be to adopt policies that perpetuate these trends.

POZNAN – The current economic crisis cast a pall over climate change talks held this month in Poland.  While negotiators hoped for concrete progress towards an international climate agreement, the world’s two largest polluters were distracted – the US with preventing a collapse of the financial system in the midst of a presidential transition, China with a slowdown in domestic investment and weakening foreign demand for its manufactured goods. With American home values and retirement savings falling and Chinese unemployment numbers rising, observers worry that neither America nor China will have much appetite to cut emissions.

The paradox here is that the crisis presents a unique opportunity for the United States and China to strike a deal that would lay the groundwork for a global climate agreement. Indeed, one of the main goals of the most recent biannual meeting of the US/China Strategic Economic Dialogue (held the week before the climate talks began) was to begin work under the “Ten Year Energy and Environment Cooperation Framework” created earlier this year.  

This bilateral initiative comes on the heels of a decade in which America abstained from international efforts to address climate change, concerned that if it acts but China doesn’t, the world will fail to meet its emission-reduction targets and US industry will be disadvantaged. China has countered that its historic and per capita emissions remain well below US levels, and that to cap aggregate national emissions at the same level as the US would imply a personal carbon budget in San Francisco five times greater than in Shanghai.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/YwaGssv;
  1. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  2. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  3. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  4. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.

  5. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.