China/US Agreement Necessary For World To Avoid Climate Catastrophe

China/US Agreement Necessary For World To Avoid Climate CatastropheChina/US Agreement Necessary For World To Avoid Climate CatastropheNew hope for the climate with US/China agreement?

New hope for the climate with US/China agreement?

The agreement by China to phase out one of the most potent greenhouse gases hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) has led to hopes that progress to combat climate change might finally be made.

One of the great stumbling blocks of climate talks in the last 15 years has been that America refuses to move to cut emissions of greenhouse gases until China does – but at the weekend leaders of the world’s two great polluters reached agreement to phase out one of the most potent of them hydrofluorocarbons (HCFs).

It was heralded as a great breakthrough, and if it works it will seriously improve the chances of the world avoiding dangerous climate change. But curiously the phasing out of HCFs will be carried out under the Montreal Protocol and not the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Montreal Protocol was set up before the climate change convention to deal with a completely different threat, the hole in the ozone layer. It has always been a more successful international forum for agreement.

This is because the chemicals that were causing the problem with the ozone layer were made in a relatively few countries and by large manufacturers. As a result governments were able to control emissions quickly and directly by regulating the industry and creating deadlines to find non-harmful substitutes.

The problem was that in solving one problem by producing substitute chemicals that did not hurt the ozone layer, another was made worse. HFCs are potent greenhouse gases, 1,000 times more so than carbon dioxide.

So the agreement to phase them out taken at the week-end, instigated by President Barack Obama and agreed by President Xi Jinping of China, will save the equivalent of two years worth of current global warming emissions. Very important is the fact that while carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for at least 100 years HFCs fall out of the atmosphere in a few years staving off rapid warming.

So phasing them out is extremely good news for the environment. The big question is whether this will translate into action on other greenhouse gases, particularly since this needs to be done under the Climate Change Convention and not the Montreal Protocol.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), was optimistic. The announcement, Mr. Steiner said  “could signal a new and perhaps transformational chapter in international cooperation on climate change.

“Along with a variety of recent signals from several key countries including China and the United States, this one on HFCs by these two key economies is welcome as the world moves towards a universal UN treaty on climate change by 2015.”

“It is widely recognized that securing a meaningful treaty and keeping an average global temperature rise under 2 degrees C this century will require all hands on deck—what, however, must not be overlooked or sidelined is the urgency to also tackle the principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, as part of negotiations underway under the UN Climate Convention.”

This last of Mr Steiner’s points appears to be the problem. By comparison with carbon dioxide HFCs are an easier problem to solve. Even before the US/China agreement 112 countries had urged phasing them out and a group called the Consumer Goods Forum, a global network of several hundred retailers, manufacturers, service providers, and other stakeholders from over 70 countries had agreed to begin phasing out HFC refrigerants beginning in 2015.

But governments may also be able to reach agreement on other short-lived greenhouse gases, according to the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development.

Of these the principle culprits are methane, low-level ozone, which also damages health and crops, and black carbon soot, which kills an estimated six million people a year. Methane can be captured and used as a fuel and cutting out the other two has important economic incentives as well as saving lives.

Perhaps the biggest single factor is the attitude of the new Chinese government. Despite the lack of democracy the Chinese are under pressure from the population because of the horrific effect of pollution on daily life, particularly the health of children. Unlike most of the American population the Chinese also realize that climate change is a threat to their economy as well as their health.

Come the next round of climate talks in Warsaw in November it may be China trying to persuade the Americans and reluctant parties like Brazil and India that action on carbon dioxide is needed too. – Climate News Network

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…
White sea ice in blue water with the sun setting reflected in the water
Earth’s frozen areas are shrinking 33K square miles a year
by Texas A&M University
The Earth’s cryosphere is shrinking by 33,000 square miles (87,000 square kilometers) per year.
A row of male and female speakers at microphones
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the upcoming IPCC climate report
by Stephanie Spera, Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
This week, hundreds of scientists from around the world are finalizing a report that assesses the state of the global…
A brown weasel with a white belly leans on a rock and looks over its shoulder
Once common weasels are doing a vanishing act
by Laura Oleniacz - NC State
Three species of weasels, once common in North America, are likely in decline, including a species that’s considered…
Flood risk will rise as climate heat intensifies
by Tim Radford
A warmer world will be a wetter one. Ever more people will face a higher flood risk as rivers rise and city streets…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.