Driving ban and decreased activities of power stations – the air in? Beijing needed to be as clear as possible for the APEC summit last week. Here, US president Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping agreed on climate targets. In 2030 China wants to begin reducing its greenhouse gas emissions for the first time and increase the share of renewable energy from currently 10 to 20 percent. As for the US, Obama aims for a reduction of pollution emissions of 26 to 28 percent until 2025. Up to now the target was a reduction of only 17 percent until 2020.
One could celebrate that fact that China and the US, being the two worst polluters of the whole planet, finally did more than just promise to participate in the fight against climate change. But their plans still have large gaps:
– As China wants to start reducing its CO2-emissions only in 2030, all the other nations will have to compensate for that in order to achieve the two degree target.
– China considers nuclear energy as “clean energy”, for technically it does not pollute the air and thus not the atmosphere during the process of energy generation. However, how to dispose of the atomic waste on a long term basis is the problem of future generations.
– The USA now aim for a higher goal than before but have granted themselves more time. Also, the year they base their percentages on is 2005 and not 1990, like it is the case for the EU. In 2005 the CO2 concentration level in the atmosphere had become much higher compared to 1990, which makes achieving the goal relatively easier.
– Whilst Obama seems to want to establish real climate targets, these goals are not shared by his competitors at home. The Republican Party dominates not only the Senate, but since the elections last week also the Congress. Measures that might inhibit economic growth will not gain their majority.
In spite of all these objections, it is of course a good sign that China has acknowledged the fact that it must play a role in the fight against climate change, especially when it comes to the approaching UN climate summit next year in Paris when binding targets are supposed to be set.