Progress on Climate Change Requires Action From U.S. and China

Progress on Climate Change Requires Action From U.S. and China

During Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to China in April, the U.S. and China issued a joint statement on climate change and agreed to undertake actions that would set an example for the rest of the world. In June, Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping agreed to address the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, a type of superwarming, short-lived greenhouse gas. While the two countries have plenty of issues to deal with on the bilateral agenda, climate change can be one of the least contentious, and further announcements are expected in the future.

Announcements are good, but action is better, and both the U.S. and China will need to step up their actions individually, bilaterally and multilaterally if the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC) is to remain relevant.

The pressing issue is to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degrees Celsius, the target generally agreed upon in international negotiations as required to protect human development. However, it is increasingly doubtful whether this objective is even possible. In 2012, the International Energy Agency revised its projections and said that there was a 40 percent chance that the world could experience a rise in temperature of more than 4 degrees C by 2100. The World Bank’s recent reports highlight the very real possibility of a world 4 degrees C warmer than it is today and the detrimental impacts that this would have on human and economic development. In addition, it is expected that the fifth assessment report by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due in September, will state with “virtual certainty”—99 percent—that global warming is caused by humans. The IPCC’s last report in 2007 settled on using the slightly less certain phrase “with very high confidence.”

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review