A Sting Exclusive: “There can be no global deal on emissions without China and the USA”, Conservative MEP Ian Duncan stresses from Brussels

Ian Duncan MEP)__

Ian Duncan is conservative Member of European Parliament for Scotland

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Ian Duncan, Conservative MEP for Scotland.

World leaders have arrived in Paris today for the opening of the UNFCCC COP21 conference on climate change.  Over the next two weeks politicians, businesses and civil society will gather in the French capital in the hopes of hammering out a global deal to limit emissions and keep the earth’s temperature from rising above two degrees centigrade. The last time such a deal was on the table was in 2009 in Copenhagen, however, the Copenhagen conference famously failed.  Now, six years on, there is growing pressure on world leaders to come to an agreement.

There is little doubting that President Hollande is facing challenges, not least coping with the aftermath of the tragic events in Paris. Mr Hollande has shown leadership and will need to do so again if the most challenging negotiations in two decade are to be a success. Negotiators remember Copenhagen with a shudder. There, the discussions ended in abject failure when last minute talks between China and the US collapsed. It was a bitter Christmas, the chill of which is only now thawing.

China has been much in the thoughts of President Hollande. Earlier this month he hosted Chinese Premier Xi Jingping in Paris and managed to secure an important concession: China will allow its Climate Change commitments to be measured and reviewed every five years. It has also declared that it will aim to improve its carbon reduction ambitions in the future. A modest success, perhaps, but worth remembering that the Copenhagen talks fell apart because China was unwilling to concede the basic reality of climate change. Très bien fait, M. Hollande!

Measuring China’s commitments will be vital.  Just how vital was demonstrated recently by a New York Times expose revealing that China’s coal emissions were in fact 17% higher than previously reported.  To put it in context, that discrepancy is equivalent to all of Germany’s annual emissions from every type of fossil fuel combined. Paris negotiators must now spend considerable time recalibrating the math.  Setting aside the reasons for the ‘error’, one thing is clear – you can’t fib your way to an end of global warming.

As Hollande does his diplomatic dance, the UN’s chief negotiator Christiana Figueres remains at the coal face. She addressed the European Parliament’s Environment Committee in September where I lead for my party on climatic matters. An eternal optimist (you’d have to be) she is painfully aware that on the balance of probabilities, the two degree target will not be met.  When the UN published its synthesis document tallying the climate reduction contributions of the 140 nations, the findings were stark: global emissions will continue to rise by 22 Gigatonnes by 2030, delivering at best a 3oC rise in global temperature.

The painful lesson from Copenhagen is that there can be no global deal on emissions without China and the USA.  Combined, they emit each year 40% of the world’s CO2. The next biggest emitter is the EU, whose combined emissions represent only 10% of the global total. China and the US are not only the biggest emitters, but with a combined GDP of $28 trillion, they also have the cash to do something about the consequences of climate change.  So are they doing enough?

China has agreed to peak its emissions in 2030 and ensure that non-fossil fuels represent at least a fifth of primary energy consumption. China has also committed to reduce the ‘carbon intensity’ of its industries (the amount of carbon consumed in the creation of goods and services) and to double the acreage of its forests from 124 to 247 million acres – the equivalent of foresting the entire UK twice over.

For the first time – and this is worth trumpeting – China has conceded that economic growth does not depend upon emission growth. You don’t need to burn to grow. This is a big realisation for a country which relies upon coal for nearly three-quarters of its primary energy production. Remember, half the world’s coal is burned in China.  Last year Chinese coal production fell by 3%. This might not sound like much, but it is the first time in recent history that it has declined at all.

Much of China’s slowdown in production and consumption of coal is the result of efficiency savings and fuel switching. As coal use drops gently, hydro power for example is growing at 16% a year, whilst China builds a nuclear power plant every month (an activity that will continue for the next two decades).

As for the USA, President Obama has a ‘Clean Power Plan’ to reduce emissions by almost a third by 2025 (against a 2005 baseline). Like China, these emissions emanate primarily from its power sector. The reduction targets are set on a state-by-state basis. Unlike China, the US has an ambitious long-term goal of reducing emissions by 83% by 2050.

However, it is one thing to have an ambition and another to realise it.  The USA’s commitment to binding targets has always been linked to political complexion of its Congress. Under its constitution US law makers must approve any international treaty before it comes into force. The admission this from Secretary of State John Kerry that the US will not seek a legally binding deal in Paris has troubled the EU and laid bare the precarious nature of America’s commitment to tackling Climate Change.

One year ago in Lima the world still believed that it may just, just, be on track to arresting global warming at 2oC. Today, with China’s errant reporting methods and America’s reluctance to concede binding emission targets that certainty is wavering.  For M. Hollande, who has steadily built expectations ahead of the Paris COP21 summit, it may yet prove to be a long, cold winter.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Featured Stings

Fostering global citizenship in medicine

The Commission favours the cultivation of more GMOs in Europe

Draghi reserved about Eurozone’s growth prospects

Who is culpable in the EU for Ukraine’s defection to Russia?

Is the West gradually losing Africa?

Eurozone: Even good statistics mean deeper recession

Is the EU’s enlargement over-stretched?

EU Commission challenges Berlin by proposing breakthrough legislation on banks

MWC 2016 LIVE: Verizon boasts momentum for IoT platform

EU makes key TTIP document public as protests get louder

Facilitating the access to finance and risk capital for SMEs and midcaps

G20 LIVE: “This was not an attack against France, this was an attack against the universal human values!”, EU President Juncker cries out from G20 in Antalya Turkey

EU to fail 2050 Green targets due to lack of European citizens’ engagement

MWC 2016 LIVE: Ericsson/Cisco partnership on track, insist execs

On International Youth Day the European Youth Forum calls for true youth participation

Europe again the black sheep at the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors

What does Tsipras have to offer to the rest of Europe? Is it worth an early advance of €10 billion? Berlin sturdily denies it

Global Citizen-Volunteer Internships

Local innovation, international impact: SMEs and the ITU Telecom World Awards

The EU Commission openly repudiates the austere economic policies

Will Merkel ever steer the EU migration Titanic and restore her power in Germany?

EU to Telcos: Stop Mergers and Acquisitions but please help me urgently with 5G development

Britain and Germany change attitude towards the European Union

Trump’s pounding of Iran less harsh than expected, leaves arrangement open

The opportunity of studying Medicine abroad

How can consumers be effectively protected from insurance sellers?

A Sting Exclusive: “Delivering on the Environmental Dimension of the new Sustainable Development Agenda”, Ulf Björnholm underscores from UNEP Brussels

Parliament cuts own spending to facilitate agreement on EU budget

Education and Training: where do we stand in 2014?

Can the EU last long if it cuts Cyprus out?

Climate change will never be combatted by EU alone while some G20 countries keep procrastinating

A Sting Exclusive: “Consumer expectations for the 2015 UN summit on climate change”, Director General of BEUC Monique Goyens outlines from Brussels

EU-US trade agreement talks to be affected by American bugs

The Linde Group Logo (Source: The Linde Group website, Press Services, 2018)

EU starts in-depth investigation of Linde-Praxair merger over competition concerns

Yesterday’s “jokes” and sarcasm by Digital Single Market’s Vice President Ansip on EU member states’ right to protect their telco markets

Draghi hands over to banks €77.7 billion more

Italy solves the enigma of growth with fiscal consolidation: The Banking Union

EU-US relations on the dawn of the Trump era

Telecommunications and Internet: A Jungle with no principles?

Brexit mission impossible: Theresa May was so desperate that had to appoint Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary

A new Europe for people, planet and prosperity for all

Spirit unlimited

Brexit negotiations: back to square one, tougher words, no good faith

Trump’s trade war splits the EU; Germany upset with Juncker’s “we can be stupid too”

Can privatisation be the panacea for the lack of growth in Europe?

EU to Turkey: No other ties than €3+3bn to upkeep refugees

Germany may have a stable and more cooperative government

The undead banks

Is Erdogan ready to tear down the bridges with Europe and the West?

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “Employment contracts today are a reducing share of the workforce”, scientists worry in Davos that the 4th industrial revolution threatens employment globally

FIAT Chrysler: from Geneva Motor show to the World, and back

Containers at the port of Tokyo. (Copyright: European Union, 2016. Source: EC - Audiovisual Service. Photo: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi)

EU cuts fast-track free trade deals with Japan and Singapore and leads the trade scene

Why do medical students need to emigrate to become doctors in 2017?

Light at the end of the Eurozone tunnel

Greferendum: the biggest political gaffe in western modern history to tear Europe apart? #Grexit #Graccident

EU Migrant Crisis: Italian Coast Guard Headquarters and Italian Navy to give host national opening addresses at Border Security 2016 in Rome

Russia to cut gas supplies again: can the EU get back to growth without a solid energy market?

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “European unity and cooperation is being called on question”, Vice President Joe Biden criticizes from Davos

Conflicting statistics and bad banks haunt the Eurozone

A day in the life of a refugee: the wait

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s