Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It Sounds Good, Sort of, On Paper

It is an historic deal - if it ever comes to pass.  China and the US have made a pact to cut carbon emissions.  The US has promised to cut emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2020.  China has said it will peak its emissions by 2030 and begin cutting them thereafter. 

It is a "landmark" deal, if it ever happens.  Whether the envisioned cuts are enough and soon enough will be the subject of discussion for weeks to come.  Remember also, Obama is going to have to lay this out before a Congress now firmly in Republican control. 

Still, it's a deal of sorts and, in one way, the timing couldn't have been better.  The agreement will be the 800-pound gorilla in the room at the G20 summit in Australia where the host, knuckle-dragger Tony Abbott wants to fend off any discussion about climate change.

The China-US deal, atop the European Union's recent initiative for a 40% cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2030 will be awkward for the climate change bad boys, Abbott and his girlfriend, Stephen Harper.  Maybe Harper will find a Tim Horton's to open so he can duck the G20 entirely.  If not he'll probably fall back on his old trick and, when the discussion turns to CO2 emissions, just excuse himself to go to the bathroom for a couple of days.

These emission cuts agreements are important if they're matched by action.  That has to mean slashing fossil fuel consumption and increasing the renewable energy supply.  It's hardly consistent with Obama's "all of the above" energy policy.  His commitment to 2020 means new, very concrete programmes have to be launched almost immediately. 

It will be interesting to see what institutional investors make of the EU, US and Chinese initiatives.  If they're finally forced to acknowledge the "carbon bubble" it could be devastating to high cost/high carbon fossil fuels - such as bitumen, coal and seabed oil.  That would be Harper's Sword of Damocles. 

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the G20 delegations will have a global warming reminder this weekend.  Australia is being hammered by a heat wave.

Update - few of us really follow these agreements enough to make sense of them.  Reuters' John Kemp contends the deal is anything but "landmark".


Grant G said...

It means absolutely nothing..China is saying their emissions will rise for another 15 years...These countries keep moving the goal posts...

Most people are so stupid, memories are a sieve..

Take British Columbia..GHG emissions reductions mandated by "law" 33% reduction by 2020 from 20007 levels..

A gobbily goop bill to exempt LNG from any penalties..If B.C. does get a LNG industry GHG reduction targets are gone without a second thought.

2025....10 years..2030 15 years away..

Both countries are waiting for a massive human die-off...Problem solved.

Anonymous said...

I heard that Tony ordered G20 organizers to have toilets installed in the broom closets of all G20 venues. Should there be an emergency, Tony wants to ensure that his girlfriend feels as safe as possible.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Grant. Yes it is hard to place any confidence in these agreements. There's a mountain of inertia to overcome and, in the US, it'll be a tough sell to garner public support. Any transition, even if ultimately beneficial, is disruptive and with America's middle class already on the ropes this might be very hard to generate sufficient support.

@ Anon - he does seem to like to sequester himself in small cubicles, doesn't he? His mother must have had a hell of a time with potty training.

Hugh said...

It's confusing. They headline says they'll cut GHG emissions, but China is going to increase its emissions.