(This post I owe to my mom. She gets emails from the organizations discussed below, and was kind enough to send them to me. I have digested them into bite sized chunks for your amusement, my faithful readers. Enjoy!)
The White House announced Wednesday that President Obama had engaged in top-secret negotiations with the Chinese about reducing carbon pollution. President Obama was in China, November 10th to the 12th for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit.
According to The White House Blog…
“After 2020, the United States will reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. This goal is both ambitious and achievable, grounded in an intensive analysis of what actions can be taken under existing law, and will double the pace of carbon pollution reduction in the United States from the pre-2020 period. It also means the United States is doing its part to contain warming to 2 degrees Celsius, though achieving that global outcome will require global ambition and commitments from all economies.
Chinese President Xi announced for the first time his intention to peak Chinese CO2 emissions around 2030, and further committed to make best efforts to peak early. China also announced a target of expanding the share of zero-emission sources in primary energy, namely renewables and nuclear, to 20% by 2030. To achieve that goal, China will have to deploy an additional 800-1,000 gigawatts of zero-emission generation capacity by 2030, about the same as all their current coal-fired capacity and nearly as much as the total installed capacity in the U.S. energy sector today.”
Of course, Mitch McConnell (R), the new senate majority leader, accused the President of giving away the farm (or the coal mine)…
“The president continues to send a signal that he has no intention of moving toward the middle. I was particularly distressed by the deal he’s reached with the Chinese on his current trip, which, as I read the agreement, it requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years, while these carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states across the country.”
The Lefty, progressive organization, The Friends of the Earth were also not pleased…
“While generating greater dialogue at top international levels is a welcome development, the announcement falls significantly short of the aggressive reductions needed to prevent climate change. The proposed U.S. emissions reduction target in the agreement — 26-28 percent below 2005 levels, by 2025 — is grounded in neither the physical reality of climate science nor the lived reality of hundreds of millions of people in developing countries whose lives and livelihoods are in jeopardy due to drought, flooding, fire and other extreme weather events.
What’s more, the announcement promotes technologies that will actually worsen the climate crisis, like so-called “clean coal” and shale gas… The weak target allows a continuation of President Obama’s flawed all-of-the-above energy policy.”
However, the grand old man of conservation, the Sierra Club, was happy…
“…As the world’s two largest carbon emitters, this agreement could have a huge impact. Next year, representatives from countries from across the globe will meet in Paris to set worldwide targets for reducing climate pollution. With the commitments from the U.S. and China leading the way, other countries will be more likely to follow suit”
“It’s only been hours since the announcement was made but already climate deniers in Congress, like future U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, are criticizing the president’s actions. Politicians like McConnell will stop at nothing to keep our country from moving from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.”
The Sierra Club is relatively cautious, maybe “conservative”, at least as far as conservation organizations go. They are also one of the oldest around, having been founded by one of America’s earliest conservationist, John Muir back in 1892. In reality, ANY dialog with China is a huge development, it opens the door for further progress. Also, President Obama’s proposed restrictions on coal plant emissions by the EPA is proof that his energy policy is not necessarily “all of the above”. Last, the kind of reductions they are calling for won’t do much in the short-term to prevent the near-term impacts on developing countries. A large part of that carbon has already left the barn, so to speak. Which leads me to another point, although China is now the largest emitter of carbon, the U.S. and other developed countries put the lion’s share of existing carbon into the atmosphere in the past, so maybe we have more responsibility than developing economies to do something about this.
McConnell wants the President to move to the middle. Of course, the “middle” from where he’s standing is where Republicans used to be. I generally find that if the far Right and the far Left are unhappy at the same time, then we are probably on the right track.
I leave the last word to environmental activist, Bill McKibben of 350.org, from his email “10 things you need to know about the US-China climate deal”…
“2) It isn’t binding in any way. In effect President Obama is writing an IOU to be cashed by future presidents and Congresses (and Xi is doing the same for future Politburos). If they take the actions to meet the targets, then it’s meaningful, but for now it’s a paper promise. And since physics is uninterested in spin, all the hard work lies ahead.”
PS I heard from the grapevine that posting comments was a pain in the ass. So I have changed the blog settings to make it easier. So please comment away! Also, please feel free to send any suggestions and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks!