With Just Six Months Until Copenhagen, US-China Discussions Intensify

  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_argument::init() should be compatible with views_handler::init(&$view, $options) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_argument.inc on line 744.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_validate() should be compatible with views_handler::options_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter::options_submit() should be compatible with views_handler::options_submit($form, &$form_state) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter.inc on line 607.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_filter_boolean_operator::value_validate() should be compatible with views_handler_filter::value_validate($form, &$form_state) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/handlers/views_handler_filter_boolean_operator.inc on line 159.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_validate() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_validate(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_plugin_row::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/plugins/views_plugin_row.inc on line 134.
  • warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1811 in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/ctools/includes/cleanstring.inc on line 157.
  • warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1811 in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/ctools/includes/cleanstring.inc on line 157.
  • warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1811 in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/ctools/includes/cleanstring.inc on line 157.
  • warning: preg_match(): Compilation failed: disallowed Unicode code point (>= 0xd800 && <= 0xdfff) at offset 1811 in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/ctools/includes/cleanstring.inc on line 157.
  • strict warning: Non-static method view::load() should not be called statically in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/views.module on line 906.
  • strict warning: Declaration of calendar_plugin_display_page::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display_page::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/calendar/includes/calendar_plugin_display_page.inc on line 297.
  • strict warning: Declaration of calendar_plugin_display_page::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/calendar/includes/calendar_plugin_display_page.inc on line 297.
  • strict warning: Declaration of calendar_plugin_display_block::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/calendar/includes/calendar_plugin_display_block.inc on line 78.
  • strict warning: Declaration of calendar_plugin_display_attachment::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display_attachment::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/calendar/includes/calendar_plugin_display_attachment.inc on line 242.
  • strict warning: Declaration of calendar_plugin_display_attachment::options() should be compatible with views_object::options() in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/calendar/includes/calendar_plugin_display_attachment.inc on line 242.
  • strict warning: Declaration of calendar_plugin_display_ical::options_submit() should be compatible with views_plugin_display_page::options_submit(&$form, &$form_state) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/calendar/calendar_ical/calendar_plugin_display_ical.inc on line 217.
  • strict warning: Declaration of date_handler_field_multiple::pre_render() should be compatible with content_handler_field_multiple::pre_render($values) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/date/date/date_handler_field_multiple.inc on line 185.
  • strict warning: Declaration of date_api_argument_handler::init() should be compatible with views_handler_argument::init(&$view, &$options) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/date/includes/date_api_argument_handler.inc on line 398.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_comment_username::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/modules/comment/views_handler_field_comment_username.inc on line 47.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_comment::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/modules/comment/views_handler_field_comment.inc on line 49.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_node_new_comments::pre_render() should be compatible with views_handler_field::pre_render($values) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/modules/comment/views_handler_field_node_new_comments.inc on line 100.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_user::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/modules/user/views_handler_field_user.inc on line 47.
  • strict warning: Declaration of views_handler_field_upload_description::init() should be compatible with views_handler_field::init(&$view, $options) in /home/wwfblogs/public_html/climate/modules/views/modules/upload/views_handler_field_upload_description.inc on line 72.

President Obama said on 5 June 2009 that “unless the United States and Europe, with our large carbon footprints, per capita carbon footprints, are willing to take some decisive steps, it’s going to be very difficult for us to persuade countries that on a per capita basis at least are still much less wealthy, like China or India, to take the steps that they’re going to need to take in controlling carbon emissions.” Actions by the U.S. and China – and interactions between the two countries – will be especially important.

Historic and per capita emissions from the U.S. are far greater than those of China. Annual per capita emissions from fossil fuel use in the U.S. are about 20 metric tons of carbon dioxide; in China, 4 metric tons of carbon dioxide per capita are emitted (see Figure 1)

Figure 1. Per capita CO2 emissions, China, U.S. and the World, 1950-2004.  Source: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

Over time, this stark difference in per capita annual emissions between China and the U.S. has resulted in a very large gap in cumulative emissions – despite China’s much larger population. Figure 2 shows that cumulative emissions of CO2 from China reached 101 billion metric tons in 2006 – less than a third of the cumulative emissions from the U.S.

Figure 2. Cumulative CO2 emissions from Fossil Fuel Use, U.S. and China, 1950-2006.  Source: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

While China’s cumulative and current per capita emissions are small relative to the U.S., its population is very large and per capita emissions are growing. Consequently, total emissions are increasing quickly and now slightly exceed those of the U.S. (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Annual energy-related carbon emissions: U.S., China and the World.  Source: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.

According to a recent forecast from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, emissions from both countries are projected to increase between 2006 and 2030, especially in China (0.3% per year in the U.S vs. 2.8% per year in China). President Obama therefore is pushing hard to curb U.S. emissions while focusing intently on engaging China in efforts to address rapidly rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The day after President Obama made the statement cited above, the U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern left for China. Stern was joined there by President Obama’s science adviser John Holdren; and the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Policy and International Affairs, David Sandalow. On 22 April, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Stern said that “China must do significantly more if we are to have a chance to solve the problem and to arrive at an international agreement that achieves what science tells us we must” and that he would be pursuing “very active discussions with the Chinese on the related issues of climate change and clean energy in order to make that happen.” The U.S. delegation began their three days of talks with the Chinese on Monday, 8 June.

If you would like to learn more about the critical importance of coordinated leadership from both the U.S. and China on curbing greenhouse gas emissions, take the time to listen to US-China expert Orville Schell’s 6 April presentation at the 16th Annual Lecture on Energy and the Environment at the University of California at Berkeley (a series started by Holdren 16 years ago). He is clear, concise and engaging. Schell describes changes in the positions of both China and the U.S. “The question is” Schell asks, “can we both change together rapidly enough to form some sort of united front on this issue?” He adds that “it seems to me unless we do find a way in very short order for these two countries to really put some muscle behind this, it is going to be too late.”

Highly recommended too is the testimony from last week’s hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign relations committee on Challenges and Opportunities for U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change. As Senator Kerry said in his introductory remarks:

“Delegates from 192 nations will spend the rest of this year doing the vital work of crafting a global climate change treaty to be negotiated in Copenhagen this December. But make no mistake: They will be taking their cues from just two nations. The reality is, a robust American partnership with China will do more than anything else to ensure a successful global response to the urgent threat of climate change... Our words and our actions will set the tone. Washington and Beijing will inevitably lead by example: Either we will create the necessary momentum to finally galvanize a global response, or else we risk a global catastrophe.”

For an interesting perspective on mutually beneficial approaches to reducing carbon footprints in China and in Western countries, see Prepared to Ride the Green Dragon? [PDF], a report prepared by WWF Norway and Innovation Norway’s Beijing Office. According to the report’s foreword:

Western entrepreneurs and stakeholders with access to effective or promising technological solutions now have an unprecedented opportunity to invest in and grow with the expanding Chinese market for low-carbon solutions, and thereby position themselves within an emerging, new global economy. Moreover, China’s speed of development and economy-of-scale will allow for commercialization of environmental technologies that can be exported to the global market where OECD countries are posed to impose radical CO2 emission cuts.

Share this