U.S. and China Reach “Historic” Climate Deal, Planet Saved
He finally got around to slowing the rise of the oceans and healing the planet.
In Beijing on the first leg of an Asian trip that will also take him to Myanmar, historic U.S. President Obama announced a historic climate accord with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping. Under the agreement, China pinky-swore that it would curb the increase of its carbon emissions by the year 2030, while the United States vowed to cut its emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. In other words, the Chinese promised to keep doing what they’re doing for the next 16 years while we pledged to work harder on ruining our economy. Makes sense.
Obviously, the Left thinks this is the best thing since sliced food stamps:
The climate accord represents a startling turnaround after years of futile efforts to cooperate in a meaningful way on global warming. It sends two critically important messages, one to the world and the other to the United States Congress. China and the United States together account for about 45 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Their new commitments are thus almost certain to energize other countries to set more ambitious targets of their own before negotiators meet to frame a new global agreement at the climate summit in Paris in December 2015.
In the United States, the agreement cuts the ground from under people like Mitch McConnell, the next Senate majority leader, and others who have long argued that there is no point in taking aggressive steps against greenhouse gases as long as major developing countries refused to do likewise. This argument effectively undermined Senate support for ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The climate deniers in Congress will find other reasons to oppose a strong climate strategy, and are doing so even now. But the “China” argument has effectively disappeared.
Apparently, Mitch McConnell didn’t get the memo that he’s not allowed to disagree with climate change anymore. Following a meeting with 10 newly-elected GOP Senate members, the Kentucky Republican addressed the deal, saying,
“The president continues to send a signal that he has no intention of moving toward the middle,” said McConnell, who is in line to become the new Senate majority leader in January. “I was particularly distressed by the deal he’s reached with the Chinese on his current trip, which, as I read the agreement, it requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years, while these carbon emission regulations are creating havoc in my state and other states across the country.”
In his initial reaction, McConnell said, “This unrealistic plan that the president would dump on his successor would ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs.”
Fellow party-pooper Jillian Kay Melchior, writing at the National Review, agrees. When weighed against China’s most pressing concern, continued economic growth, the likelihood of the pact being anything more than political window dressing falls slightly in between “slim” and “none”:
That’s because the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist party’s government rests squarely on economic development. Energy — often produced by dirty coal — allows that economic development to occur, lifting millions out of hand-to-mouth poverty.
But China remains a developing country, and it will stay that way for quite some time. In 2010, the World Bank estimated that more than one Chinese person in five survives on less than $2 a day, using 2005 international prices. And just a few months ago, Chinese premier Li Keqiang estimated that 200 million Chinese continue to live on $1.25 a day or less.
“The biggest difficulty is that the demand [for energy] will still be there,” Wang Yi, a climate-change expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the New York Times. “Urbanization won’t be completed, industrialization won’t be over and there will still be these large regional disparities. The eastern regions will be quite developed, but there will still be poverty in the center and west.”
And for us? While nothing announced today is binding,
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has estimated that [the Obama administration’s proposed regulations] would cost $51 billion, as well as 224,000 jobs, every year between now and 2030. And a recent NERA Economic Consulting study puts the cost even higher — as much as $73 billion a year — while also predicting double-digit price hikes on utility bills in all but seven states. Notably, the EPA failed to mention what such stringent policies would accomplish: They’d cut global temperatures by less than two-hundredths of a degree Fahrenheit.
A historic less than two-hundreths of a degree Fahrenheit.