Thursday, May 2, 2013

Report on Climate Change Efforts in the US and China

A new report titled "The Critical Decade: Global Action Building on Climate Change," presents an overview of progress in international action on climate change since August 2012, with a particular focus on China and the US. Since the Climate Commission’s international report in August 2012 there has been significant progress in many countries across the globe.

The US and China combined represent more than a third (37%) of global emissions. Both nations are on track to meet their international commitments to tackle climate change and in April they signed an agreement to work together on the pressing issues associated with climate change.

The report indicates that the US and China are starting to move into leadership positions on greenhouse gas reductions, and this could re-energize global efforts and generate momentum to tackle climate change. Efforts are required over and above the 2009 agreement in which the nations agreed on a voluntary goal of limiting global warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over pre-industrial temperature levels.

China

China has reduced its carbon intensity and halved the growth of its electricity demand. Previously, China had been building coal plants at a reckless pace, but in 2012 this has slowed substantially. China will also begin introducing seven emissions trading schemes in 2013 and a national trading scheme is planned.

China is also an unparalleled global leader in renewable energy. In 2012 China invested US$65.1 billion in clean energy, 20 percent more than in 2011. Between 2005 and 2012 China increased its wind power generation capacity by almost 50 times. The amount of electricity generated from wind in 2012 was about 36 per cent higher than in 2011. New solar power capacity expanded by 75% in 2012. Solar power capacity is expected to triple to more than 21,000 megawatts by 2015.

Although China remains the world’s largest emitter, the country continues to make significant gains in renewable energy, reducing growth in demand for electricity and fossil fuels.

US

Under the Obama administration the US is assuming an ever increasing role in efforts to manage climate change. Emissions in the US have been declining. In just four years, between 2008 and 2012, the US has nearly doubled its installed renewable energy capacity. US investment in renewable energy was US$35.6 billion in 2012, second only to China.

More than half of US states now have policies that encourage the growth of renewable energy. In January 2013, the world’s 9th largest economy, California, commenced an emissions trading scheme.

This is the critical decade for accelerating action, particularly for major emitters like China and the United States. Clearly much more will need to be done, but we are seeing movement in the right direction.

To download the full report click here.

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