May 19, 2024
The Paris Agreement’s Beijing Problem
China’s green-energy pledges and promises are cover for its ever-expanding global network of coal-fired power plants.
China’s green-energy pledges and promises are cover for its ever-expanding global network of coal-fired power plants.

On November 4 — the day after the 2020 election — the United States will officially exit the Paris climate agreement, fulfilling the vow President Trump made in 2017 and finalized last year. If a new president replaces Trump in January, the Paris agreement’s advocates will urge that the country rejoin immediately. The international agreement, its advocates assert, gives humanity its best chance to limit global temperature rise to manageable levels. But their hopes rest on the dubious expectation that China will comply with the steep emissions reductions the agreement demands.

Though the Western world drove the hydrocarbon-fueled industrialization of the 19th and 20th centuries, with the United States at the forefront, it is now China that emits the world’s greatest volume of greenhouse gases. The U.S. emits 10 percent less than it did in 2005, but China has more than made up the difference, increasing its emissions from about 5 billion metric tons of CO2 in 2005 to more than 10 billion in the most recent statistical year. China now emits nearly twice as much as the U.S., generating 30 percent of the global total. Suffice it to say, the agreement’s success or failure hinges on whether China will sharply curtail its emitting behaviors.

China’s Paris Commitment

From the perspective of the climate hawks, China’s commitment to the Paris agreement leaves much to be desired. China has pledged to begin reducing its emissions in 2030 and to generate 20 percent of its energy from non-hydrocarbon sources by the same year. It has also pledged to reduce its economy’s “carbon intensity” to 60 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. “Carbon intensity” refers to an emissions-to-GDP ratio — one that naturally will decrease for any economy as it progresses to a more service- and knowledge-oriented framework. Climate Action Tracker has deemed China’s plans “highly insufficient” and hopes that it will further tighten its emissions policies. But policy commitments are one thing, and emissions reductions are another.

There’s good reason to think that China will offer lip service with the former while shirking the latter. China’s actions and its historic approach to international cooperation indicate that a meaningful reduction in emissions from China is unrealistic, thus undermining the Paris agreement’s justification.

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See Also:

(1) A China–India Border Clash as Beijing Aims for Regional Hegemony

(2) Australian researchers see virus design manipulation

(3) China Trapped in Own Web of Wuhan Lies

(4) Xi Jinping Wants to Become the New Mao

(5) ‘It’s time for China to blink first,’ says Rep. Sherman, who leads the drive to delist China stocks

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