COP26 Day 10: China & USA Speak   Leave a comment

I’m no longer at COP26, as my “badge” took me only through the first week. But I’m still closely following events and news and querying colleagues who are still there. There are so many issues in play at the moment that it is difficult to sort out what to emphasize here. Tree planting as a nature-based solution to take up CO2 from the dioxide? Efforts to end gasoline cars? The serious fight over reparation payments to less developed nations to help with the transition to clean energy and a new climate? The problem of inadequate reporting of emissions by some nations? India’s step forward?

I’ll keep it simple by focusing on the joint announcement two days ago by China and USA of new efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions in those two countries. It was significant for the harmony between the two powerful nations, which, of course, have been at loggerheads about a range of political issues for some time. But my main question is what should we make of this announcement in regards to climate change? Is it an indication of real progress at COP26, or is it, as Greta Thunberg suggested about other COP26 announcements, just “blah blah blah.”?

I wondered whether the announcement rippled through COP. I wondered about the inside analysis of the announcement. I wondered whether we should be buoyed or crestfallen. Here are a few comments from scientists who, like me, were sponsored by the Ecological Society of America. Let me be clear, the ESA was very supportive in providing badges to us and facilitating our preparation and participation, but we don’t speak for the organization.

“There was quite a bit of pleasant surprise that I noticed among some folks here.”

“It’s good as china want to be in mainstream and political move by them and alot of benefits for climate 
Pessimistic analysis would be they are already shifting their emitting industry to their new colonies.”

“One person described it as putting boundaries on the negotiations” (I interpret that as warning from the two countries not to expect anything Earth-shattering. Of course, nothing “Earth-shattering” might lead to some “Earth-shattering consequences.)

“I heard that’s it’s a good political signal between US and China, especially since they are very high emitters, and it’s a potential start to raise ambitions among other countries. Because I think a China – US move was made at Paris and it catalyzed a lot then, and can hopefully jump start more action now. Also there of course needs to be much much stronger NDCs from China, and it might just be a “political signal or detoxifying” their global look, but it’s at least something”

“Yeah I think it’s too vague to know how good it’ll be? But I am hopeful that our countries will push each other to do better.”

At this point, it seems that it’s very difficult to parse the announcement-agreement. Glass half-full or half-empty? The devil is perhaps in the details, given the lack of such details? Better than no announcement at all?

Here is a similar analysis selected from the NY Times (11 November 2021)

Both of those quotes are certainly true. The science tells us, however, that in order to avoid the most serious climate, ecological, and economic consequences, the USA and China are going to have to commit to much more ambitious plans for reducing emissions and, along with other nations, for serious financing of less developed countries.

Posted November 11, 2021 by changingnatureofthemainewoods in Uncategorized

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