World’s two biggest polluters – the US and China – sign a deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions | Centre for Science and Environment


World’s two biggest polluters – the US and China – sign a deal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions

Centre for Science and Environment calls it a self-serving and a business-as-usual deal 

Says the deal will take the world towards a catastrophic 3°C and beyond temperature increase pathway

New Delhi, November 12, 2014: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has lambasted the “historic” climate deal signed today by the US and China as neither “historic” nor ambitious, but just a self-serving agreement between the world’s two biggest polluters.

These two countries (the US is the world’s biggest ‘historical’ polluter while China is the biggest current polluter), have announced a joint plan today to reduce emissions. Under the deal, the US will reduce emissions by 26-28 per cent below the 2005 levels by 2025. The earlier target of the US was 17 per cent by 2020 levels.

China, on its part, will peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and then start reducing it. It has not, however, announced any specific targets. The US has vowed to help China to “slow, peak and then reverse” its emissions.

The deal was announced jointly by US president Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping today in Beijing. According to news reports, the US and China have worked on the deal quietly for the past nine months. Commentators from both the countries have hailed the deal as “historic” and “ambitious”. They also believe that this deal will spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases.

But an analysis by CSE suggests the deal will actually take the world towards a catastrophic 3°C and beyond the temperature increase pathway.

If this deal goes through…

• Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of the US in 2025 will be 5 billion tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). Its per capita emissions would be 14 tonne CO2e in 2025. In comparison, in 2025, India’s total emissions will be about 4 billion tonne and its per capita emissions will be less than 3 tonne.

• From 1990 levels, the US will reduce its emissions by just 15-17 per cent by 2025. In comparison, the European Union will reduce its emissions by at least 35 per cent – more than double that of the US.

• All estimates show that to meet the 2°C target, US emissions should be at least 50-60 per cent below 1990 levels considering its historical responsibility of causing climate change and its present capability of solving it.

• China's emissions will peak at 17-20 billion tonne CO2e by 2030. Its per capita emissions in 2030 will be 12-13 tonne CO2e. These are not in line with the 2°C emissions pathways as put forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).   

• Extrapolation of data by CSE indicates that in 2030, per capita emissions of the US and China will converge at 12 tonne CO2e.

Commenting on the deal, Sunita Narain, director general, CSE, points out: “It is a self-serving deal in which both countries have agreed to converge their per capita emissions at 12 tonne in 2030. This is a high level of emission and not in line with meeting the 2°C temperature target mandated by the IPCC.”

The recently released Synthesis Report of the IPCC mentions that the world needs to cut its emissions between 40 and 70 per cent below 2010 levels by 2050 to stay within the 2°C temperature increase pathway. The US-China deal will not allow the world to meet this benchmark, adds Narain.  

“This deal puts a sub-standard benchmark for other countries to follow,” says Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general of CSE and the head of its climate change team. “In fact, if India were to follow the principles of this deal, then we need not do anything till 2040 and beyond. Our per capita emissions in 2030 will be less than 4 tonne CO2e compared to 12 tonne of the US and China,” he adds. 

Bhushan says this deal is a precursor to what we should expect in 2015 in Paris. In the name of getting a consensus in 2015, these two countries are forcing a catastrophic business-as-usual deal on the world.

This deal is also a reality check for the government of India about its stance on global climate negotiations. India will have to decide whether it wants to follow the US-China deal or carve out a different path for itself. 

CSE experts believe that India should now work harder with developing countries and push for an ambitious global deal which is equitable and saves the world from catastrophic climate impacts. “India should push for a principle-based emissions reduction target for all countries. This is the only way we can force the US and China to reduce their emissions which are in line with the planetary limits,” adds Narain.
 

To speak to an expert on this, please contact Sheeba Madan at sheeba@cseindia.org / 8860659190.

 
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