China and India jump on climate bandwagon

Photo by Future Atlas

I am shamefully late to the game on this one, but better than never. Three months after the arduous bickering at Copenhagen, China and India have joined the climate accord that was signed in the Danish capital. The New York Times states,

China and India join more than 100 countries that have signed up under the accord, which calls for limiting the rise in global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, beyond pre-industrial levels.

The agreement also calls for spending as much as $100 billion a year to help emerging countries adapt to climate change and develop low-carbon energy systems, to bring energy technology more quickly to the developing world and to take steps to protect tropical forests from destruction.

China has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 40-45% by 2020, while India’s promise sits at 20-25% by 2020, both in comparison to 2005 levels. For the US, this reduction will be around 17% for the same time frame.

Yet, some are sceptical. Not least among them are Johann Hari and George Monbiot. Hari says,

There is a very broad, rock-solid scientific consensus that we need a cut of 40 per cent in the most polluting countries’ emissions by 2020 if we are going to have even a 50-50 chance of doing so. Then, by 2050 we need an 80 per cent cut from everyone. The fact we are only aiming for a 50 per cent goal of avoiding calamity is a sign of how far we have already made a terrible compromise with fossil fuels – but our leaders are refusing to aim even for those odds.

Both of these stalwarts of liberal opinion claim progressive change is down to ordinary, mobilised citizens. If demonstrations remain few and far between, the wounds left untouched Copenhagen will still not be healed. Given that an agreement upon a global climate change treaty seems to be absent from 2010’s cards, Hari’s and Monbiot’s theories seem like a far more plausible route to take.

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