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

Featured Stings

European Business Summit 2014: The role of youth entrepreneurship education in EU’s Strategy for Competitiveness

What options the new President of Ukraine has?

From Grexit to Brexit: UK industry now says the in/out referendum is good for your health

Global Citizen – Volunteer Internships

Draghi rehabs ECB into a tool to support growth and employment; a departure from Teutonic orthodoxy

The US bugged Europe: Is this news?

MasterCard at European Business Summit 2015: A focus on innovation will drive inclusive economic growth for Europe

Commission deepens criticism on German economic policies

Why lay people don’t expect anything good from G20

GREXIT final wrap-up: nobody believed Aesop’s boy who cried wolf so many times

A Sting Exclusive: “Doing ourselves a favour”, Vice President Dombrovskis underscores that this time growth has to come from within the EU

EntEx Organises 5 Summer Schools for Young Entrepreneurs across Europe in June/July 2014

“As German Chancellor I want to be able to cope with the merger of the real and digital economy”, Angela Merkel from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Pharmaceuticals conceal drug side effects with the EU’s Court blessing

No better year for the EU’s weak chain links

Eurozone needs more than some decimals of growth

Trump to run America to the tune of his business affairs

G20 LIVE: “International communities and leaders have great expectations for 2016 G20 summit in Hangzhou China”, Mr Wang Xiaolong, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s special envoy stresses live from G20 in Antalya Turkey

Ukraine undecided over a strategic partnership with the EU

China-EU Special Report: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang endorses China’s big investment on Juncker’s plan at 10th China-EU Business Summit

EU to negotiate an FTA with Japan

A critical European young voice on Net Neutrality: the distance between Brussels and Washington

TTIP’s 11th round starts in Miami but EU-US businesses see no sunny side

The ECB again takes care of the bankers not the people

Commission’s feeble response to financial benchmarks fraud

Fair completion rules and the law of gravity don’t apply to banks

Towards the Rise of the United States of the Atlantic?

High-technology manufacturing saves the EU industry

Syria: Why did the US-Russia brokered ceasefire collapse? What does the duo care for?

The EU Commission lets money market funds continue the unholy game of banks

EU security and defence industry prepares positions for ‘producers’ and ‘customers’

Greece’s last Eurogroup or the beginning of a new solid European Union?

Financial Transaction Tax: More money for future bank bailouts?

How much more political is the new EU leadership? Does this include personal bend?

COP21 Breaking News_07 December: “Remove Roadblocks to Climate Action”

Eurozone: Inflation plunge to 0.4% in July may trigger cataclysmic developments

“C’est la vie”? French recession and unemployment to linger in Eurozone

China Unlimited Special Report: The trip to China

May a parody constitute a copyright infringement? European Court of Justice to give the answer

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “It is the implementation, Stupid!”, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble points the finger to Greece from Davos

A Sting Exclusive: “Climate Change needs to be demystified”, Anneli Jättenmäki Vice President of European Parliament underscores from Brussels

MWC 2016 LIVE: Getty chief says one in four new images from phones

The EU pretends not knowing what happens in the Western Balkans

Austerity lovers and ‘relaxationists’ fight over the EU budget

Although Greece is struggling to pay salaries and pensions Varoufakis is “optimistic”; the Sting reports live from EBS 2015

Why the merchant ships can pollute the atmosphere with CO2 quite freely

Do the EU policies on agro-food smell?

An EU Summit without purpose

EU seeks foreign support on 5G from Mobile World Congress 2015 as the “digital gold rush” begins

On Human Rights Day European Youth Forum calls for end to discrimination of young people

Greece may offer to China a European gateway

Court of Auditors: EU spending infested with errors well above the materiality threshold of 2%

Migration has set EU’s political clock ticking; the stagnating economy cannot help it and Turkey doesn’t cooperate

Brussels wins game and match in Ukraine no matter the electoral results

Summer JADE Meeting 2015: We came curious, we left inspired

The Parliament sets the way for the European Banking Union

ECB is about to lend trillions to banks

A Sting Exclusive: why the environment is important to your health, by UNEP’s Head for Europe

German stock market is not affected by the Greek debt revolution while Athens is running out of time

“If they think they can slave an entire nation, then they will just have the opposite results!”, Alexis Tsipras cries out from the Greek parliament

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s