The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
3 Striking Contrasts Between America and China on Climate Action
By Han Chen
President Trump and President Xi Jinping's first meeting this week is intended to establish a personal relationship and search for common ground on issues including security and trade. However, climate change and energy policy will likely receive scant attention as America and China are embarking on wildly divergent paths.
China is actively planning for a sustainable low-carbon economy, while the U.S. wrestles with a White House that rejects climate action, celebrates fossil fuels and faces increasing resistance from businesses, governors, mayors and citizens who support low-carbon development.
Here are the three most striking contrasts between America and China on climate leadership:
1. "Cancelling" the Paris Climate Agreement vs. Championing International Climate Action
- President Trump has threatened to "cancel" the Paris climate agreement, which nearly 200 countries around the world have joined and is supported by strong majorities of Americans.
- President Xi encourages all nations to participate in this "hard won" climate victory and the Chinese Foreign Minister reiterated China's commitment to the Paris climate agreement saying that they will act no matter what the U.S. does.
2. Attempting to Gut Climate Protections vs. Supporting Clean Energy Jobs
- President Trump's recent executive orders attempt to roll back critical environmental protections like the Clean Power Plan and vehicle emissions standards.
- China will add 800 to 1000 gigawatts of electricity capacity by 2030—equivalent to the capacity of the entire U.S. electric grid. China is already the world leader in new installations of wind and solar power.
3. Favoring Fossil Fuel Lobbyists vs. Curbing Emissions From the Coal Sector
- President Trump falsely claims that his energy policy can revive jobs in the coal sector, despite decades of coal decline due to its devastating health and environmental costs and the market advantages of natural gas and renewable energy.
- China recently established the first ever mandatory target for coal's share of total energy consumption—seeking to decrease it from 64 percent in 2015 to 58 percent by 2020. And China's energy and cement-related CO2 emissions in 2016 were basically flat, continuing a leveling-off of China's CO2 emissions since 2014.
President Trump may not be ready to walk down the path of tackling the climate change challenge, but he is putting Americans' security and prosperity at risk by doing so. It is becoming increasingly clear that Trump is willing to weaken environmental protections for Americans and let China eclipse us in the global clean energy race—all to satisfy special interests from his cronies in the fossil fuel industry.
Han Chen helps implement the Natural Resources Defense Council's strategy to address climate change at the international level and in key countries around the world including the U.S., India, China, Canada and myriad Latin American nations.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
The evidence continues to build that breathing dirty air is bad for your brain.
By Paul Brown
The amount of energy generated by tides and waves in the last decade has increased tenfold. Now governments around the world are planning to scale up these ventures to tap into the oceans' vast store of blue energy.
When the novel coronavirus started to sweep across the country, the National Park Service started to waive entrance fees. The idea was that as we started to practice social distancing, Americans should have unfettered access to the outdoors. Then the parking lots and the visitor centers started to fill up, worrying park employees.
By John R. Platt
Both eyes open. Look for potential threats coming from all sides. Be prepared to change course at a moment's notice.
By Nick Cunningham
A growing number of refineries around the world are either curtailing operations or shutting down entirely as the oil market collapses.