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The China-US Climate Deal - Smokescreen or Strong Signal? boomer warrior

We now have a good faith effort on the part of the planet’s two leading carbon emitters to work together to lower planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. It is probably our last-ditch opportunity to stave off dangerous human interference with the climate. 

This historic agreement between the U.S. and China provides a glimmer of hope that we will see something significant come out of Paris. (Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University).

In this article I raise this question: is the climate deal just political camouflage or will the combined leadership of the US and China be enough for world leaders to reach a legally-binding climate agreement at the Paris 2015 Summit?

The China-US Climate Deal – Smokescreen or Strong Signal?


It isn’t binding in any way. In effect President Obama is writing an IOU to be cashed by future presidents and Congresses (and Xi is doing the same for future Politburos). If they take the actions to meet the targets, then it’s meaningful, but for now it’s a paper promise. And since physics is uninterested in spin, all the hard work lies ahead ~ Bill McKibben, 350.Org.

It is not remotely enough to keep us out of climate trouble. We’ve increased the temperature less than a degree and that’s been enough to melt enormous quantities of ice, not to mention set the weather on berserk. So this plan to let the increase more than double is folly — though it is good to see that the two sides have at least agreed not to undermine that two degrees target, the one tiny achievement of the Copenhagen conference fiasco ~ Bill McKibben, 350.Org.

It’s not, in any way, a stretch goal. These numbers are easy — if you were really being cynical, you could say they’re trying to put a floor under the retreat from carbon, to manage a retreat from fossil fuels instead of really putting carbon on the run. The Germans, for instance, will be moving in on 60 percent of their energy from clean sources by the mid-2020s, when we’ll still be cutting carbon emissions by small increments ~ Bill McKibben, 350.Org.

Strong Signal The China-US Climate Deal - Smokescreen or Strong Signal? boomer warrior

It is historic. John Kerry was right to use the phrase in his New York Times oped announcing the deal: for the first time a developing nation has agreed to eventually limit its emissions, which has become a necessity for advancing international climate negotiations ~ Bill McKibben, 350.Org.

It is proof, if any more was needed, that renewable energy is ready to go. The Chinese say they’ll be using clean sources to get 20 percent of their energy by 2030 — which is not just possible, it should be easy. Which they know because they’ve revolutionized the production of solar energy, driving down the cost of panels by 90 percent or more in the last decade ~ Bill McKibben, 350.Org.

It is a good way to put pressure on other nations. I’ve just come back from India, which has worked hard to avoid any targets of any sort. But the lesson from this pact is, actual world leaders at least need to demonstrate they’re talking about climate; it makes the lead-up to the global negotiations in Paris next year more interesting ~ Bill McKibben, 350.Org.

“You cannot solve this problem with the US and China alone. You cannot solve this problem without the US and China,” says Tim Profeta, Duke University climate policy expert.

Watch the following video. US-China Climate Deal Analysis.

Published on Nov 12, 2014
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It is crystal clear to this blogger that the setting of attainable specific targets by the world’s two largest carbon emitters will initiate an unprecedented dialogue on the reduction of emissions. The deal is well-timed as nations gear up for the Lima, Peru, climate talks starting in December 2014. This is the prelude for the Paris Summit in December of 2015.

It all seems very promising! As ClimateToday reports, we are starting to see bricks falling, one by one, from the climate resistance wall.

Rolly Montpellier, boomer warriorRolly Montpellier is the Founder and Managing Editor of BoomerWarrior.Org. He’s a Climate Reality leader, a blogger and an Climate Activist. Rolly has been published in several online publications – Climate Change Guide, World Daily, Examiner, The Canadian, 350Ottawa, ClimateMama, MyEarth360, GreenDivas, The Elephant, Countercurrents, Georgian Bay News.

Some of Rolly’s articles have also appeared in newspapers such as The Hill Times and the Kingston Whig. You can follow him on FacebookTwitter and Linkedin.

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  1. Agreed, Rolly. It’s a smokescreen *and* a strong signal. It’s not nearly enough *and* it’s (finally) a pointing of the foot in the right direction.

    I’m trying very hard not to keep asking myself, “What if the powers that were had done this 15 years ago?”

    I just wish we could hear global leaders talking about (and talking about adopting) the IPCC’s best-case scenario RCP2.6, which is the only one with the possibility of keeping us below the (catastrophically high) 2ºC temperature rise. Why do we go through the mammoth IPCC process every few years if governments aren’t going to actually read and act on their findings (that they, governments, have already watered down for the final Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers)?

    • As we keep watering down reports and sugar-coating how bad it will get, global emissions keep rising. I think Naomi Klein says it best in her book “This Changes Everything”. She asks the question, What Is Wrong With Us?

      I think that says it all.

  2. We all know how politicians go with “the flavour of the month” and this is what China and the US have done with their favourable “lip service” to cutting greenhouse gases.

    We shouldn’t doubt their intentions, but if environmental issues fall from the electoral gaze…politicians look for new “flavours” to keep their constituents happy.

    We (as voters), must keep our voices loud to make sure that our polititians keep the issue of a zero -emissions future, well and truly, “the flavour of the year, decade and century.” It must remain at the top of media reports, tweets to each other, and should appear in our everyday language to each other.

    Some scientists can not agree on what causes our current warming period. No matter the cause, we can reduce substantially, the amount of greenhouse gases that we produce. Any improvement, buys us time, and to turn away from the issue would be morally reprehensible!

  3. Agreed Colette. The China-US agreement is more important for the symbolic message it sends out than for the reduction in emissions it promises. The fact is that the US and China are already doing what they pledge to do in the new agreement.

    The deal puts a lot of pressure on countries like Canada and Australia.

    Thanks for your comment.


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