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CCNet 12/11/14

US-China Climate Statement Is No Breakthrough 

China Pledges To Peak CO2 Emissions - But Only After ‘Around 2030’ 

  
Today, the Presidents of the United States and China announced their respective post-2020 actions on climate change, recognizing that these actions are part of the longer range effort to transition to low-carbon economies, mindful of the global temperature goal of 2℃. The United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its emissions by 26%-28% below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%. China intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to peak early and intends to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20% by 2030. Both sides intend to continue to work to increase ambition over time. --U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change, 12 November 2014
  
 
 
The joint statement by the United States and China on climate change, issued on Wednesday, is more important for its political and diplomatic symbolism than any practical effect it might have in reducing emissions. The statement reiterates policies China and the United States have been developing on their own and contains no new binding limits on greenhouse emissions. The joint announcement employs language very carefully. Throughout, the operative word is "intend" or "intention", which makes clear the statement is not meant to create any new obligations. --John Kemp, Reuters, 12 November 2014
 
 


 
By adopting emissions targets on its own terms, China can influence negotiations leading up to the 2015 climate summit and head off pressure for tougher targets. China can point to its self-adopted targets as well as the principle of "common and differentiated responsibilities" to block any attempt to erect carbon tariffs or other border adjustment measures by the United States and the European Union to protect energy-intensive trade-exposed industries. Finally, the 2030 target should be fairly easy to meet. By then, the most manufacturing-intensive phase of China's development will be complete and hundreds of millions more people will have been lifted into the middle class. Emissions are likely to stabilise by that date even without the joint statement. --John Kemp, Reuters, 12 November 2014
 
 
 
China is considering setting itself a new target to stop increasing overall emissions by 2025, according to Lord Stern of Brentford. He said that consumption of coal in China, which is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, could reach a peak before 2020, much earlier than previously predicted. --Ben Webster, The Times, 25 September 2013
 
 
The man responsible for maintaining India’s power supply says he wants the country’s coal production to double within the next five years. Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Power, Coal, New and Renewable energy, says India needs to dig twice as much coal as it does today if it is to meet its soaring energy demand. By 2019, it is expected to be consuming two trillion units of electricity annually, with one unit equalling one kilowatt hour. Describing  coal as “an essential input for power”, Goyal said: “I see Coal India production doubling in the next five years. It makes about 500 million tonnes hopefully this year. We [will] do a billion tonnes in 2019.” --Alex Kirby, Climate News Network, 7 November 2014
 
 
 
Climate negotiations in the run-up to the global deal in Paris next year may not to be on predictable lines. After trade, the Narendra Modi government is now contemplating a strategic shift during talks, delinking India’s position from China. Although India will continue to insist that the global climate deal should have the principles of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and Kyoto Protocol that call for only rich nations to cut emissions while demanding money for poor countries to take voluntary action, it may now start questioning the idea of keeping the world’s highest carbon emitter China in the same league as the other developing countries. --Vishwa Mohan, Times of India, 5 November 2014



 
 
Crop producers and scientists hold deeply different views on climate change and its possible causes, a study by Purdue and Iowa State universities shows. Associate professor of natural resource social science Linda Prokopy and fellow researchers surveyed 6,795 people in the agricultural sector in 2011-2012 to determine their beliefs about climate change and whether variation in the climate is triggered by human activities, natural causes or an equal combination of both. 66 percent of corn producers surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with 8 percent pinpointing human activities as the main cause. --Purdue University, 11 November 2014
 
 
 
1) China Pledges To Peak CO2 Emissions - But Only After ‘Around 2030’ - The Times, 12 November 2014
 
2) U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change - The White House, 12 November 2014
 
3) Reality Check: US-China Climate Statement Is No Breakthrough - Reuters, 12 November 2014
 
4) India Intends To Double Coal Production Within 5 Years - Climate News Network, 7 November 2014
 
5) UN Climate Poker: India Mulls Shift In Stand - Times of India, 5 November 2014
 
6) And Finally: Only 8% Of American Farmers Believe In Man-Made Climate Change - Purdue University, 11 November 2014
 
 
 
 
1) China Pledges To Peak CO2 Emissions - But Only After ‘Around 2030’
The Times, 12 November 2014
 
China has for the first time set a year by which it intends to stop increasing its greenhouse gas emissions, in a landmark climate change deal agreed between Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama.



 
However, it said its emissions would not reach their peak level until “around 2030”, meaning the world’s biggest polluter will continue growing its annual rate of emissions for at least another 15 years.
 
The climate announcement emerged from a US-China presidential summit held the day after world leaders gathered in Beijing for the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum. It was an event that, beneath some very awkward smiles, did much to highlight the squabbles and long-term differences that have stoked volatility in the region.
 
Although both leaders were keen to stress the cordiality of the five-hour meeting between the world’s two heaviest polluters, Mr Obama pointed to “important differences that we have both practically as well as our vision for our respective countries and our conduct in foreign policy”.
 
The climate change issue appeared to allow Mr Obama and his host to demonstrate grounds for agreement. The announcement on carbon emissions reduction, said diplomats in Beijing, reflected a “genuine sense of urgency” on both sides and a desire to demonstrate a dual leadership on the issue ahead of crunch climate talks in Paris next year.
 
[...] On the US side, the emissions agreement involved a commitment to speed up existing efforts to reduce pollution - a pledge that was immediately denounced by Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, as unrealistic and part of the president’s “ideological war on coal”. [...]
 
Full story
 
 
2) U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change
The White House, 12 November 2014
 
Beijing, China, 12 November 2014
 
1. The United States of America and the People’s Republic of China have a critical role to play in combating global climate change, one of the greatest threats facing humanity. The seriousness of the challenge calls upon the two sides to work constructively together for the common good.
 
2. To this end, President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the importance of strengthening bilateral cooperation on climate change and will work together, and with other countries, to adopt a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties at the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in 2015. They are committed to reaching an ambitious 2015 agreement that reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances.
 
3. Today, the Presidents of the United States and China announced their respective post-2020 actions on climate change, recognizing that these actions are part of the longer range effort to transition to low-carbon economies, mindful of the global temperature goal of 2℃. The United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its emissions by 26%-28% below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%. China intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to peak early and intends to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20% by 2030. Both sides intend to continue to work to increase ambition over time.
 
4. The United States and China hope that by announcing these targets now, they can inject momentum into the global climate negotiations and inspire other countries to join in coming forward with ambitious actions as soon as possible, preferably by the first quarter of 2015. The two Presidents resolved to work closely together over the next year to address major impediments to reaching a successful global climate agreement in Paris.
 
Full document
 
 
 
 
3) Reality Check: US-China Climate Statement Is No Breakthrough
Reuters, 12 November 2014
 
John Kemp
 
The joint statement by the United States and China on climate change, issued on Wednesday, is more important for its political and diplomatic symbolism than any practical effect it might have in reducing emissions.
 
The statement reiterates policies China and the United States have been developing on their own and contains no new binding limits on greenhouse emissions.
 
Instead it is intended to "inject momentum into the global climate negotiations and inspire other countries to join in coming forward with ambitious actions as soon as possible" ahead of the next multilateral climate summit in Paris in 2015.
 
EXISTING PLANS
 
In the joint announcement, the United States gave its intention to cut economy-wide emissions 26-28 percent below the 2005 level by 2025.
 
The baseline, scale and timing of the reductions are essentially the same as those proposed in the Clean Power Plan, published by the Environmental Protection Agency in June.
 
In return, China announced that it intends to achieve peak carbon dioxide emissions no later than 2030 and to increase the share of non-fossil fuels to around 20 percent of primary energy consumption.
 
China has a long-standing strategy to increase the share of zero-emission resources in national electricity generation at the expense of fossil fuels, especially coal.
 
China's government has been discussing an energy and climate strategy based on emissions peaking in either 2025 or 2030; the joint announcement opts for the later target, which is easier to achieve.
 
The joint announcement employs language very carefully. Throughout, the operative word is "intend" or "intention", which makes clear the statement is not meant to create any new obligations.
 
China's 2030 emissions target is set in terms of a date but says nothing about the level at which emissions will peak.
 
China's target for primary energy consumption is expressed in terms of "non-fossil fuels", which means a big increase in nuclear power as well as wind, solar and hydro.
 
Crucially, the joint statement reaffirms "the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities", which has been the sticking point in international negotiations since the Kyoto Protocol in 1997.
 
NO LAME DUCK
 
Both sides have strong reasons to want an announcement on climate change at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing this week.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama needs to demonstrate he is still relevant following defeats for his Democratic Party in the mid-term elections this month. The mid-term results have been perceived by many observers as a big setback for the president's climate agenda.
 
The Republican Party will control both chambers of the U.S. Congress from January 2015. Congressional Republicans are hostile to large parts of the president's policies on climate and energy, especially his administration's implementation of emissions curbs through regulatory action rather than legislation.
 
Republican lawmakers have pledged to roll back some of the regulatory actions that the administration has taken over the last four years through the Environmental Protection Agency.
 
In reality, congressional Republicans and their allies in the Democratic Party from major energy-producing states lack enough votes to overcome a presidential veto.
 
But Congress has the power to defund the agency, block appointments, hold critical hearings and generally make life for the agency much more difficult.
The president needed an ambitious statement to prove he can still make a difference and allay concerns that the United States is damaging its competitiveness by implementing carbon controls unilaterally without requiring other countries, principally China, to do the same.
 
XI IN CONTROL
 
For his part, Chinese President Xi Jinping also needed an ambitious statement. As host nation, China wants the APEC summit to be successful.
 
In exchange for the climate statement, China's negotiators have secured goodwill and concessions from the United States on other parts of the agenda, including maritime disputes and trade negotiations, as well as some useful technology transfers.
 
By adopting emissions targets on its own terms, China can influence negotiations leading up to the 2015 climate summit and head off pressure for tougher targets.
 
China can point to its self-adopted targets as well as the principle of "common and differentiated responsibilities" to block any attempt to erect carbon tariffs or other border adjustment measures by the United States and the European Union to protect energy-intensive trade-exposed industries.
 
Finally, the 2030 target should be fairly easy to meet. By then, the most manufacturing-intensive phase of China's development will be complete and hundreds of millions more people will have been lifted into the middle class. Emissions are likely to stabilise by that date even without the joint statement.
 
For China, climate action remains subordinate to the primary goals of economic development and political and social stability. The joint statement enshrines China's right to tackle climate change in its own way and at its own pace.
 
 
 
4) India Intends To Double Coal Production Within 5 Years
Climate News Network, 7 November 2014
 
Alex Kirby
 
The man responsible for maintaining India’s power supply says he wants the country’s coal production to double within the next five years.
 


 
Piyush Goyal, Minister of State for Power, Coal, New and Renewable energy, says India needs to dig twice as much coal as it does today if it is to meet its soaring energy demand. By 2019, it is expected to be consuming two trillion units of electricity annually, with one unit equalling one kilowatt hour.
 
Describing  coal as “an essential input for power”, Goyal said: “I see Coal India production doubling in the next five years. It makes about 500 million tonnes hopefully this year. We [will] do a billion tonnes in 2019.”
 
He was speaking at the India Economic Summit, held in Delhi from 4 to 6 November, and hosted by the World Economic Forum and the Confederation of Indian Industry.
 
Full story
 
 
 
 
5) UN Climate Poker: India Mulls Shift In Stand
Times of India, 5 November 2014
 
Vishwa Mohan
 
NEW DELHI: Climate negotiations in the run-up to the global deal in Paris next year may not to be on predictable lines. After trade, the Narendra Modi government is now contemplating a strategic shift during talks, delinking India’s position from China.
 
Unlike the past where both India and China remained on the same page while batting for developing countries, a clear view is emerging in the government that its strategic interests should be pursued while taking pro-active role in negotiations.
 
The shift may get reflected as early as during the G20 meeting in Brisbane next week. It is learnt that it was India that insisted on including the climate issue in the agenda of the meeting despite strong resistance from China.

Although India will continue to insist that the global climate deal should have the principles of the 
UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and Kyoto Protocol that call for only rich nations to cut emissions while demanding money for poor countries to take voluntary action, it may now start questioning the idea of keeping the world’s highest carbon emitter China in the same league as the other developing countries.


Climate negotiation strategists within the government here feel that the move may help some manufacturing activity to shift to India from China. Although China argues that its emission is mainly due to production activities for exports, the argument is seen as an excuse for its inaction.


The idea to question China on this issue emerged while drafting a strategic paper for the forthcoming Lima climate conference next month where India will insist on ‘adaptation’ than on ‘mitigation’ (emission cut) in any future climate deal.


“Though India will adhere to the joint stand taken by the BASIC group of countries including China, Brazil and South Africa on broader issues, New Delhi may now differ on specific issues which may be affecting its own economic interest,” said an official involved with the discussions to strategize India’s move for the next one year in the run-up to the Paris deal.


He said, “It is time for India to take a lead role while keeping its national interest in mind. The focus will be on adaptation and seeking support for poor nations in terms of extending them finance and technology so that they can adapt themselves to face the challenges of 
climate change.”

 
Full story
 
 
 
6) And Finally: Only 8% Of American Farmers Believe In Man-Made Climate Change
Purdue University, 11 November 2014
 
Crop producers and scientists hold deeply different views on climate change and its possible causes, a study by Purdue and Iowa State universities shows.
 
Associate professor of natural resource social science Linda Prokopy and fellow researchers surveyed 6,795 people in the agricultural sector in 2011-2012 to determine their beliefs about climate change and whether variation in the climate is triggered by human activities, natural causes or an equal combination of both.
 
More than 90 percent of the scientists and climatologists surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with more than 50 percent attributing climate change primarily to human activities.
 
In contrast, 66 percent of corn producers surveyed said they believed climate change was occurring, with 8 percent pinpointing human activities as the main cause.
 
A quarter of producers said they believed climate change was caused mostly by natural shifts in the environment, and 31 percent said there was not enough evidence to determine whether climate change was happening or not.
 
The survey results highlight the division between scientists and farmers over climate change and the challenges in communicating climate data and trends in non-polarizing ways, Prokopy said.
 
“Whenever climate change gets introduced, the conversation tends to turn political,” she said. “Scientists and climatologists are saying climate change is happening, and agricultural commodity groups and farmers are saying they don’t believe that. Our research suggests that this disparity in beliefs may cause agricultural stakeholders to respond to climate information very differently.”
 
Full story
 
 
 

 
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