News Column

U.S., China and Global Climate Change

Jun 25 2013 4:27PM
green earth

The declared goal of more than 190 countries participating in UN-sponsored global warming talks is to keep global temperatures from climbing more than 2 degrees Celsius.

But it's not clear how that goal will be reached. The US, which trails only China in the carbon emissions blamed for global warming, has so far resisted definitive commitments.

China produces 23.5 per cent of world emissions, while the US produces 18.3 per cent, according to UN estimates. China was exempt from emission controls under the expiring Kyoto Protocol, and the US has argued that it cannot commit to reductions until its rising economic rival does the same.

GLOBAL CLIMATE TREATY: Negotiations started this year on a new broad climate agreement to be sealed by 2015 and take effect in 2020. The US and China have signalled that they will cooperate in the new agreement, but climate activists are sceptical of both governments' intentions. China is experimenting with emissions trade, in which greenhouse gas producers must obtain "rights" to pollute.

KYOTO PROTOCOL: The first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change expired in 2012. To partially bridge the gap until a new treaty would take effect in 2020, 27 European Union members and 10 other countries agreed at the last meetings in Qatar in 2012 to continue current emission reduction efforts until the end of 2020.

Those countries produce around 15 per cent of global emissions. The EU wants to reduce greenhouse emissions by 20 per cent compared to 1990 levels, and Germany intends to reach 40 per cent reductions.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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