Quick-Takes: Climate Change

The United States announced a new goal to cut net greenhouse emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025, while China has agreed to derive 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.

Climate Deal Is Not Enough, More Developing Nations Must Be Involved 

Together, the U.S. and China contribute to over one-third of global greenhouse emissions. Many supporters of the recent climate change agreement believe the deal to be a crucial step towards effective decarbonization of the global economy, while others remain skeptical of any real changes.

But there is more than one reason why this deal could fall short. The agreement is voluntary, meaning that if either party opts out by being inactive, there are no enlisted penalties. Also, the shale oil and gas drilling revolution has made America the world’s top petroleum producer and it has 300 years’ worth of coal in reserve. Taxing and regulating these resources to extinction will come back and haunt the U.S., especially with the thousands of mining-related jobs that would be lost as a result.

Furthermore, developing nations like India and Indonesia have been neglected in this particular effort to save the planet.  A recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change disclosed that the rate of global warming has doubled in the past decade than the two before it. A major reason: outsourcing of carbon emissions, wherein rich countries like the U.S. relocate factories to developing economies like India to reduce their own carbon-related pollution stress. This contributes heavily to the net concentration of global greenhouse gasses, making developing nations an inevitable part of the solution to this global problem.

Any positive and sustainable development in the direction of real solutions to the climate change problem will need the cooperation and proactive attitudes of all major economies in the world.

—  Kshitiz Verma Contributing Writer

Agreement Between Latecomers to Climate Game Is Too Little, Too Late

The United States and China are well over 15 years late to the climate change ballgame, and their non-participation in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol has already doomed the ecological future of our planet.

Edward Wong from the New York Times reports that experts predict that even if the two countries follow the deal to the letter, the effect will be insufficient “to keep the average global temperature from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above the pre-industrial average,” a mark widely regarded as the threshold of catastrophic climate change.

Experts working for the Paris Summit of 2015 say that industries, which are responsible for 20 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States as of 2012, will have to accept a tax on their carbon emissions, an idea with large political implications due to the culture of big industries lobbying legislators.

As for China’s side of the deal, the consensus amid its officials and most experts is that China can achieve its part of the deal by changing absolutely nothing. Scholars from China’s Tsinghua University have predicted a 34 percent rise in carbon emissions by 2030 (10.6 billion tons, up from 7.9 billion tons in 2012). China will just continue to emit at its destructive rate and naturally reach a peak in carbon emissions by 2030.

This deal sets foundations for a future more committed to stopping climate change. However, carbon emissions have increased by about 1.5 times between 1990 and 2008, and even with this agreement between the two powers most responsible for this disaster, it is too little and too late to save our planet.

— Marcus Thuillier Contributing Writer  

Largest Carbon Producers Can Help Control Global Climate Change Crisis

The U.S. and China collectively represent 45 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions but only a quarter of its population. These countries are the big-hitters and together, they can bring the rest of the planet down from the fence to face this crisis.

Reducing GHG emissions in this country by 26 to 28 percent below the existing 2005 levels by 2025 will be a challenge, but the U.S. has blindly dug itself into a hole and has to take responsibility for it. Citizens can no longer be ignorant of the fact that their everyday actions contribute to a significant amount of GHG emissions. In 2011, passenger car and light truck transportation in the U.S. produced the equivalent of over a billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, according the Environmental Protection Agency. This figure must decrease sharply in the next 10 years. It is important that globally significant and non-negotiable targets have been set to decrease our reliance on main contributors to climate change, such as cars, and increase efficient forms of public transportation.

China is by far the country most responsible for the most GHG production, and unlike the U.S., its emissions are still increasing. That continuing, ballooning industrialization is the reason why some Chinese students at UCSD wear surgical masks around our smoke-free campus; during President Obama’s visit to Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit from which these targets arise, “the Chinese government closed factories and gave employees time off to reduce car traffic and emissions,” CNN said. But the joint commitment of China and the United States proves hopeful that blue skies will again be seen over Beijing.

— Sam Thoburn Contributing Writer