Could China Save The World?

Recently US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced an agreement that will cut greenhouse gases by significant margins in both countries. China is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, producing more than 28 percent of the world’s annual greenhouse gases in 2013. So, what does this agreement mean to China? Or more importantly, the world? First, lets look at what China has pledged to accomplish. President Jinping announced China will cap carbon dioxide emissions “around 2030.” They also plan on addressing renewable energy by increasing non-fossil fuel consumption to 20% of total energy used, up from 9.8% in 2013. They have also been experimenting with wind, solar, hydro and nuclear energy sources. The question is, are these accomplishable goals? Well, many experts think the 2030 carbon dioxide cap was already an inevitable milestone, with some saying that goal should have been more ambitious. But the increase to clean energy is clearly the bolder of the two promises and would directly influence how high their carbon peak would grow. Hitting these goals would mean a cut to coal energy and ultimately, a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.

China’s plan has positive ramifications outside of their country as well. China has always fought international pressure to take action on fighting their carbon footprint, and this announcement shows progress. It also may help put an end to one of the Republican Party’s main reasons for balking at climate change regulations. One talking point repeated by the U.S. right is that if China isn’t doing anything to curb carbon dioxide emissions, than American reductions would be too insignificant to make a difference. This new deal may help push some politicians towards bipartisan agreements. Also, with both China and the US committing to changes, other major carbon exporters, like India, may step up their fight. Recently developing nations have argued that richer countries, like China and the US, have to make the first move, since they are the major polluters.

Hopefully those countries can see this as an official first move. This agreement is also well timed, possibly forcing the climate issue to be put on the agenda at the upcoming G20 summit in Australia, and is a good foundation for further talks at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris. So will this agreement save the world? Maybe not, some experts think China and the US have not pledged enough and that even if these goals are accomplished it will not result in significant global change. They also question the veracity of China and the US’s convictions. This agreement is non-binding. And the Republican party is already voicing their opposition. In the end this historical announcement may just be a bunch of hot air..