So it has finally happened- the two top carbon emitters in the world, which together account for about 40% of global carbon emissions- have finally met, talked and created an agreement. The US has pledged to cut its emissions by 26-28%, achieving below 2005 levels by 2025. China has agreed to increase its use of non-fossil fuel energy to 20% by 2030- in other words, invest heavily in alternative energy. If the two countries meet their goals, the fight against rising carbon emissions could be officially jump started.
However, skeptics are saying that the deal is unfair and ineffective. There criticism mainly stems from 3 reasons:
- China is barely doing anything- critics say China has a later deadline with less to accomplish.
- We don't know how much China is going to do about reducing its carbon emissions- there are no specific carbon emission reduction percentages or figures that China needs to meet.
- Through this treaty, are we doing anything that we weren't actually going to do? China has been investing in alternative energy in the last few years, and the US has already implemented policies and measures to reduce its own measures.
Despite these shortcomings, I think this agreement is still an extremely positive step that has been taken in the war against climate change. The reason the Kyoto Protocol failed to pass was that the US did not sign the agreement, and there have been many clashes between China and the US in the past concerning this issue (why should the US do anything if China isn't doing it and vice versa). As the two largest carbon emitters, it is absolutely imperative that China and the US take the first steps in bringing down their carbon emissions, allowing the rest of the world to follow.
After all, global warming is a global issue- no one country can stop it. In order to anticipate a positive future, intergovernmental climate deals are key.
Watch this video about climate change negotiations.