Friction between U.S. and China – the two major carbon emitters again emerging, as U.S. president Donald Trump’s signals preparing an executive order to pull out his country from Paris climate deal, which ultimately affect the vulnerable nations and climate pact get weaker while China seems to be more ambitious to fill the gap and emerge as a next climate leader under the “ecological civilization” policy.
The U.S. President Trump, has already started reversing Obama’s legacy on climate friendly policies, and extending approvals to firing up coal mines, extracting shale oil and gas resources, laying new pipelines, allowing energy infrastructure projects across the country, initiated process of cancelling the payments to UN climate change programmes and also to abolish the prime and powerful US regulatory body, Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA) because Trump believe, not to believe in climate change and the Paris deal, the best ever possible solution to a clean, green and safe future.
On the other hand, there is clear divide between Trump administration and military establishment on variety of issues including climate change. The US Department of Defense has already identified climate change as a driver of instability and conflict and a major security threat to US – posing ‘an immediate risk to national security’ while US federal agencies are now required to incorporate climate change impacts in their approaches to national security.
Trump’s 100-day action plan outlined a number of measures that would seek to reverse the gains made in addressing climate change and if the US withdraws from the Paris agreement on climate change, fears escalates that other countries will feel less pressure to honour their commitments. As a result of such backtracking approach, the risks of climate armed conflicts would rise due to environmental stresses grow across regions especially among developing nations particularly in the continents of Asia, Africa and South America.
In the meanwhile, the US suicidal policies lead the world at a stage, where thinking of new global climate leadership emerging at high nodes rather relying on US present leadership. Though, both the US and China are gigantic polluters of the world, but after expected US hoax to climate change, Chinese leading role in favour of climate deal provides more oxygen to the expected low-carbon environment. In 2014, former US president Barrack Obama during his visit to Beijing, struck a bilateral carbon emission reduction deal. Even in that deal, China stick to its point of reduce its carbon emissions after attaining peak levels till 2030 while US unilaterally offered to reduce carbon foot prints 17 per cent till 2020 and 28 per cent till 2025.
Speaking at a joint stake-out at the Great Hall of the People, Obama admits: “As the world’s largest economies and greatest emitters of greenhouse gases we have special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change”. He said, “I am proud we can announce a historic agreement. I commend President Xi, his team and the Chinese government for their making to slow, peak and then reverse China’s carbon emissions.” He said the US emissions reductions goal was “ambitious but achievable” and would double the pace at which it is reducing carbon emissions. While added that “This is a major milestone in US-China relations and shows what is possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge.”
At that point in time, both the US and China agreed that only a low-carbon economy would be a next major opportunity. Obama administration was foreseeing the economic gains as well as Washington’s active role in international climate diplomacy. So, US-China bilateral move had not only created a win-win situation for entire humanity but also Beijing-Washington together created a positive synergy and that had stimulated an extensive cooperation program, despite the hostility of the US Congress but Trump’s domestic political rivalry has damaging effects on US role as climate leader and ultimately on its economy.
The Paris accord agreed, ratified and brought into force in a quick time and really a breakthrough after a series of complex and very intense negotiations for years and years and interestingly it was not only because of entire world’s seriousness but also due to US-China extreme cooperation while their bilateral deal has played a pivotal role in final agreement at Paris.
The Paris deal does not bind signatories to take necessary action, instead inviting nations as volunteer to reduce emissions; it doesn’t distinguish between the obligations of the rich and the less rich countries. That’s actually in order to fulfill the common ambition of keeping the global average temperature rise below 2C above pre-industrial levels to achieve an ambitious goal of net zero emissions by mid of this century. Global climate change phenomenon is a most delicate subject as our climate is getting unstable at every passing moment – now, these are not only natural disasters inflicting pain to humanity, but also its human commitment to nature that is under threat because of one powerful office of US president and that has compelled China to come forward to save the deal.
During COP22, the global climate conference held in Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Morocco from 7-18 November 2016, the Chinese vice-foreign minister Liu Zhenmin, furnish a message to than US president-elect about the history of climate diplomacy and explained, “Climate Change was not a Chinese phenomenon, it’s in fact, put forward by the intergovernmental panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under UN purview in the 1980s, supported by former US presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush (senior)”.
Climate Change phenomenon was then tried to tackle through the first ever ambitious Kyoto Protocol global agreement in 1997, which was signed by former president Bill Clinton, although rejected by the US Congress. During ex-president Obama’s era, US formally entered into the Paris agreement in September 2016, and tried to seek endorsement from hostile congress, yet US has been the constant part of climate diplomacy and negotiations till the deal sealed and entered into force.
So seeing the forthcoming US departure from international climate stage under Trump administration, Chinese officials made it very clear that the act of US self-inflicting harm would not deter China from pursuing its own interests under the low-carbon futuristic vision. Any variation in the US policy “won’t affect China’s commitment to support climate negotiations and also the implementation of the Paris Agreement”. Chinese vice-foreign minister Liu Zhenmin reiterated his country’s commitment.
Reiterating the commitment at the onset of New Year, Chinese leadership has strongly rebut the one man show on getting away from the Paris accord and indicated that Beijing could fill the gap, defend the Paris climate deal, seek international cooperation and will advocate the realistic approach on what Mr. Trump trying to defy. Chinese president Xi Jinping, at the January 2017, World Economic Forum leadership moot at Davos, Switzerland, shielded the UN pact to limit green house gas emissions by saying, “We should adhere to multilateralism, honour promises and abide by rules, one [Trump] should not select or bend rules as he sees fit,” and added “The Paris Agreement is a hard-won agreement, all signatories should stick to it instead of walking away – it is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.”
Question is why China – as global climate leader? China has its own reasons to be more proactive at climate front, it’s because Chinese president Xi, himself is an environment friendly inspiration, Chinese communist party administration is fully committed to green cities future, cities are confronting the most deadly smog, poor air quality killing 1.7 million and natural disasters affecting 200 million Chinese populations. China is trying hard to invest in public transport, improving green, clean and efficient energy mechanisms and technologies, it’s an emerging market and leading supplier of green technologies, possesses world’s huge installed capacity of wind and solar power, China is the home five of the top six solar panel manufacturers and five of the top 10 wind turbine makers, China invested $88 billion alone in energy sector alone.
With green climate policies are the major drivers behind its five-year economic plans, Beijing is going to introduce gree bonds market with $230 billion for renewable energy investments plan from five years and implementing the world’s largest emissions trading system later this year and if per ton carbon prices would be lucrative, it will create strong incentives world over while China has more than $32 billion of investments abroad in renewable projects — this would across the developing world, strengthen the Chinese trade and diplomatic links and with spread of clean energy across create millions of jobs and stimulating trillions of dollars in annual investment. Here the China sees her future while US has bleak scenario under Trump.
After US president’s threatening gestures, Chinese government openly advocating that during years to come the world will see – what China will offer next to the international community in spirit of global co-operation as president Xi expressed at Davos. Though US alone can’t eject from the Paris agreement, as it take at least four years to withdraw from this deal and requires one year pull-out of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). But, it’s evident that with the end of US support to climate friendly world, also minimize the financial and technical support to the poor, vulnerable and developing countries particularly in mitigation and adaptation to climatic changes.
On the other hand, US economy would suffer huge blow as majority of developing world would tilt towards China and European Union to fulfill their accumulative technological needs, financial support, selling carbon credits, getting mitigation and adaptation funds and as a result developing world’s entire economy would rest slightly away from Washington’s need. So today, like the rest of the world, China too is watching keenly, how Trump’s extreme climate rhetoric in confrontation with reality, survives and how he, stand alone at one side, deals with the entire world on the other side.