The surprise November announcement between President Obama and his Chinese counterpart on reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades changes the playing field for international climate negotiators, experts agree, even while some express concerns that the agreement doesn’t go far enough and others complain it could benefit China more than it does the U.S.
Independent videographer Peter Sinclair, in his new “This Is Not Cool” video exclusively for Yale Climate Connections offers a strong case for why the agreement amounts to a real game-changer.
Noting that the agreement, when combined with European Union commitments already well under way, would affect roughly 60 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, Princeton University scientist Michael Oppenheimer in one clip told PBS NewsHour that “we can do it with technologies and measures that are already known and available.”
Independent journalist Keith Schneider, national correspondent for Circle of Blue, which has done extensive coverage of environmental issues in China and elsewhere, says the measures announced by the two presidents while Obama was in Beijing are “easy for both nations.”
“America’s well on its way to reaching that goal anyway, based on market, based on market and regulations,” Schneider told Sinclair.
Schneider and water resources expert Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute both pointed to severe water shortages facing China in coming years as key factors motivating the country’s efforts on the issue. Limitations on water availability are driving much of China’s policy now, Gleick says, and other independent experts in the video provide further support for that view.
Gleick says in the video that “energy production, particularly fossil fuel energy production, takes a tremendous amount of water.” And Schneider says China by the end of the current decade could fall at least 20 billion cubic meters short of its projected water needs, with Chinese officials themselves fearing the shortfall could reach 5 billion cubic meters.
The video also includes an ExxonMobil advertisement saying that using natural gas, rather than fossil fuels, to generate electricity can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 60 percent. “That’s a big reason that the U.S. is a world leader in reducing CO2 emissions,” the company’s ad states.