The climate change police have been rounding up the usual suspects this week, and states are starting to pull apart the new EPA regulations that aim to reduce carbon emissions in the U.S.
At most, these plans are expected to reduce global carbon emissions by a grand total of 4 percent by 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal. Experts admit that American efforts will be completely eclipsed by the developing world, but others counter that the ultimate goal of this complex regulatory mountain is to set an example for poorer countries, especially China. Reported the Journal:
“No matter what your view of climate change, these [U.S.] reductions will be dwarfed by increased emissions in other parts of the world,” said Stephen Eule, a vice president at the Institute for 21st Century Energy, part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Connie Hedegaard, commissioner for climate action in the European Commission, which sets laws for the 28 countries of the EU, said the Obama administration announcement “is more than symbolic—it is a step that the rest of the world has been waiting for.”
However, the U.S. proposal could spur China to be more aggressive in tackling emissions, she added. “Until now, they could be laid back and say that as long as the U.S. wasn’t moving, why should they? I hope this will inspire China” to act.
I think we should all be good stewards of the earth, and I hope that the United States of America always leads the world in all that is virtuous, lovely, and otherwise noble, but the following seems a bit more relevant to the discussion on China:
- China’s Christians were celebrating their own community’s survival as much as anything else this Easter. The government decided to conduct a spring cleaning of Christian churches this year that culminated in the bulldozing of a large Protestant church.
- Political dissidents in China continue to disappear without warning, then turn up again months or years later with horrifying prison stories and a sudden passion for being completely apolitical.
- China is twenty-five years out from the Tiananmen Square massacre today. Twenty-five years ago, young Chinese were shot down fighting for government reforms China still doesn’t have.
- China and Russia have been strengthening their ties of late, and leaders signed a deal last month that makes China Russia’s second largest market for natural gas.
- Chinese continues to make aggressive moves in the South China Sea over territorial disputes that make Asia nervous; Vietnam and the Philippines in particular want international mediation.
With all this in mind, should carbon emissions really be the absolute top diplomatic priority with China?
China is determined to become an economic powerhouse, and its leaders have shown that they will do what is necessary to achieve that goal. They weren’t terribly interested in green technology—until they started selling solar panels to the U.S. Likewise, China will probably decide to curb its carbon emissions when and if its leaders find it economically advantageous. Until then, I question whether this issue is really where we should be putting our resources.