A sustained reduction in coal, the main fuel used to generate electricity in China, will be good news for the local environment and global climate. But it also raises questions: what is driving the drop? And can we expect this nascent trend to continue?
Scott Pruitt’s confirmation last week as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency was a setback for environmentalists and scientists who waged a fierce campaign against the nominee.
As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt led or took part in 14 lawsuits that sought to block EPA regulations and policies intended to tackle climate change. In addition, his views on global warming put him at odds with both the stated positions of many companies and their current policies toward climate change.
Pruitt is one of many announced appointees who is hostile to efforts aimed at reducing emissions linked to global warming. Many in the administration are skeptical that climate change is caused by human activity or doubt its consequences will be significant. President Trump has expressed extreme skepticism about climate change, calling it a hoax created by China.
The latest Obama-Xi announcement sends a strong message: the two nations are acting fast to enable a global low carbon transition. Friday’s joint announcement is an unprecedented step by the world’s #1 and #2 emitters to commit, at the highest levels, to a strong set of domestic policies and to reinforce global mechanisms that will help to engage peers ahead of the upcoming landmark climate change negotiations in Paris.
The UN international climate change negotiations in Paris, COP21, concluded on Saturday. The outcome: 196 countries came to the table, and committed to preventing the worst effects of climate change. For the first time, developing countries recognized their future responsibility, while developed nations acknowledged their historic contribution. Together they set out an aggressive goal to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees C. Like countless others, I eagerly shared the news on my Facebook feed and I rushed to explain the significance to my five-year-old son.
After two weeks of negotiations, the Paris climate talks that ended on December 12 delivered the foundations of a post-2020 climate regime.
To advance climate change mitigation efforts, the new agreement incorporates national targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for 2025/2030, a new five-year cycle to establish subsequent targets, a reporting and review placeholder, and official stocktaking two years prior to those submissions to compare global progress against long-term goals.
In Paris, 189 of 195 participating countries pledged action in the form of intended nationally determined contributions, or INDCs. These pledges will be assessed in 2018 to encourage countries, where possible, to increase the level of ambition.
The review mechanism agreed on in Paris is a crucial first step. The new climate regime has also been lauded for its transparency provisions, which will be essential to establishing trust in the review process.