Cooperation between China and the U.S. is crucial if there’s to be progress at the upcoming climate change conference in Paris. Both countries have the two largest economies and they’re also the two largest emitters.
Both the U.S. and China bring a different influence to nations around the world trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach the ambitious targets Paris has set. CCTV America’s Jessica Stone reports from Washington.
China, US cooperation crucial on global climate changeBoth the U.S. and China bring a different influence to nations around the world trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach the ambitious targets Paris has set. CCTV America's Jessica Stone reports from Washington.
The historic emissions reductions announcement in November 2014 ushered in a new era of Sino-American climate cooperation a year ahead of the Paris climate talks.
Wang Pu, a climate researcher at Harvard, said China’s commitment fits into its economic goals of reducing reliance on coal-powered manufacturing and moving to a services and technology-led economy that pollutes less, and emphasizes renewables.
“I would say China is definitely one of the most important actors,” Wang said. “Climate policy is viewed by the Chinese government as both environmental and economic policy. I think it’s a win-win solution for environment and for the economy.”
And win-win for China’s relationship with the United States. Wang says finding common ground with Americans on climate policy is also a way to manage diplomatic differences.
For the U.S., Chinese cooperation is essential to achieving a goal of President Barack Obama’s: slowing climate change, according to Elliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
“Unless both the U.S. and China are really committed to this, it’s very hard to get other countries to come along,” Diringer said. “I think the U.S. administration certainly recognized that and has worked really hard to reach out to China.”
“I think China did set an example for these other emerging economies, particularly for India,” Pu said. “I think China has had some indirect influence over India decision to make their own national contributions.”
Many experts also believe nations around the world are watching to see if and how the U.S. reaches its reduction targets. The U.S. has already reduced vehicle emissions and is now focusing on cutting emissions from power production, the largest source of carbon pollution nationwide.
“That is a huge example to the rest of the world, that this is a challenge that can be met without sacrificing economic growth and development,” Diringer said.
Beijing doubts whether the U.S. political system will allow it to accept any binding climate agreement. And Washington has reason to doubt whether Beijing will accept emissions transparency standards or commit to set new reduction goals every five years. But both have moved closer on other aspects of the climate negotiations.
During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s U.S. state visit in September, China matched the U.S. contribution of nearly $3 billion to help developing countries combat climate change. And perhaps its greatest impact, aside from reducing its own carbon footprint, will be to inspire other major economies to pledge ambitious reduction targets.
Heading into the Paris climate talks, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said current commitments don’t achieve the goal of holding the increase in global temperature to two degrees Celsius. The U.S. and China in particular will need to use their influence to enlist the help of other countries during the negotiations to change that.
Paul Bledsoe on the climate change talks
For more on the upcoming climate change talks in Paris, anchor Susan Roberts was joined by Paul Bledsoe, president of strategic public policy firm Bledsoe & Associates.