Wednesday, November 12, 2014

USA and China Reach Bold and Historic Climate Agreement

What a wonderful surprise I was treated to this morning when saw that Huffington Post's headline was President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping's agreement to take ambitious action to limit greenhouse gases.  The US set a new target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26-28% by 2025, a sharp increase from our current goal of 17% by 2020.  As for China, their public acknowledgement to take action about greenhouse gas emissions is an unprecedented move by a nation reluctant to agree to any goals.  Although China continues to build coal plants for their booming economy, President Xi set a target for China's emissions to peak by 2030 while also pledging to increase the share of energy that China will derive from energy sources other than fossil fuels.

This agreement between two powerful nations is a historic step in our efforts to slow down global warming. Many other countries have been reluctant to make any agreements or commit resources without US and China, the two major polluters of greenhouse gases, taking significant steps.  President Obama's accomplishment to reach such an agreement with China speaks highly of the diplomatic relationship his administration has worked to create over the past 6 years and will set a positive, optimistic tone for next year's climate summit in Paris where a worldwide treaty will be finalized to combat global warming.  

Environmentalists are speaking highly about this unexpected development between US and China.  China's willingness to be part of the global solution is sure to have a great impact on the contributions of other nations.  Similarly, the US's willingness to set more ambitious goals sends a message that we are serious about global warming.  Yet, this is a just one "step" in a long and complicated process to combat global warming.  We will need to work together as a nation to meet a 26-28% reduction of greenhouse gases which will require determination, sacrifice, and innovation.  We will need to repeatedly stand up to the the GOP, multi-national corporations and others who are determined to keep the status quo and do not care what science is telling us about the horrific global consequences of a warming planet.  Equally if not more important, the apathy of many Americans will need to be confronted as we will need tens of millions of citizens to make their voice heard and take meaningful action, if we ever expect to rise above the powerful and rich influences who stand in our way.

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