U.S-China climate deal: a move to trap India?

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In what can be called as a landmark stride in climate talks, China has agreed to peak carbon emissions by around 2030, with the intention to try to peak early and increase the non-fossil share of all energy to around 20 percent by 2030.

Meanwhile the U.S announced new target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.

The pledge by the U.S and China, the top two carbon emitting countries in the world, come ahead of the global climate change meet scheduled in Paris late next year.

Soon after the announcement by the two countries, UN issued a statement saying other major economies should follow the path of China and the U.S and announce post-2020 targets as soon as possible, but no later than the first quarter of 2015. The statement is a call to countries like India, Japan and Russia that top the list of polluters. China and India have always been targets in climate talks. The agreement between China and the U.S happens after a prolonged discussion between the two countries. China_and_US_Flag Addressing the Climate Summit at United Nations headquarters earlier in September, President Obama declared that the U.S. will lead the world in the fight against climate change but also said China and other developing countries won’t be let off from their responsibilities. He even urged the developing nations that even as they strive for economic growth, they should ignore the example set by the U.S. by reducing emission in power plants and adopting energy efficient technologies, and considering the current emergency they should forgo the use of coal and other “dirty” fuels. Obama was clearly targeting China and India as he said, “The emerging economies that have experienced some of the most dynamic growth in recent years have also emitted rising levels of carbon pollution. It is those emerging economies that are likely to produce more and more carbon emissions in the years to come. So nobody can stand on the sidelines on this issue.” Meanwhile Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli conveyed at the U.N conference that China would soon announce post-2020 actions on climate change. In addition, China will provide aid to other developing nations struggling with horrific poverty while also reining in emissions. Now the landmark agreement signed while Obama was visiting China comes as a surprise to many as the nations are not formally scheduled to offer post-2020 emissions targets to the U.N. talks until the first quarter of next year. China and the U.S might use this deal to influence other countries including India to commit an early emission targets. Chinese President Xi Jingping already hinted he expects other nations to follow suit ahead of next year’s international climate talks in Paris.

Meanwhile, critics also say the clauses mentioned in the U.S.-China agreement do not suffice to create a truly game changing climate relationship.

The climate targets in the agreement are referred as “intent,” and they don’t promise to even “agree,” says Ben Adler in Grist.

Adler says, “That may sound a little weak, but it’s necessary. Remember, foreign treaties require approval from a two-thirds supermajority of the U.S. Senate before they can be ratified. There’s no way Senate Republicans would vote for an emission-reduction treaty. But by merely jointly announcing with China their intentions, the Obama administration avoids signing an actual treaty. So the Senate can’t formally stop this agreement.

A statement from Nic Clyde, a senior climate campaigner, Greenpeace Australia-Pacific, said, “Both sides have yet to reach the goal of a truly game-changing climate relationship. There is a clear expectation of more ambition from these two economies whose emissions trajectories define the global response to climate change. Today’s announcements should only be the floor and not the ceiling of enhanced actions.”

Meanwhile, others view the pledges by the two world leaders as dramatic and ambitious because the agreement overwrites Obama’s earlier plans for a smaller cut in emissions, while on the part of China, it is the first sign of consent by China that has always been resisting any move to cap emissions.

Rajani Baburajan