Among the most prominent reasons for US inaction on climate change has been China. The story goes like this – we are unwilling to engage at international climate talks until the Chinese take a serious step. You can see several clips here of members of Congress making these claims for over the years.
In November, for the first time, China set a 2020 cap on coal consumption and 2030 for carbon pollution to peak and then finally begin a downward trend. Bingo – China took a first step.
The US EPA has proposed power plant regulations that would cut emissions from the electricity sector. These rules are critical to meeting the pledge Obama made in November with the Chinese to reduce emissions between 26 and 28% from 2005 levels by 2025. Republicans are now vowing to stop the “job-crushing” deal. If successful in the crush, China could back off of its commitment.
The UN Summit began this week in Peru to draft a global agreement to halt greenhouse gases. Given the recent US-China announcement, nations are optimistic for the first time in years.
In addition to the “stick” of regulating and reducing power plant emissions, the “carrot” side is looking bright. Cost has been among the main reasons for federal policy to not embrace renewables with more fervor. Renewables and energy efficiency have to be part of the equation as we ratchet down fossil fuels.
Last week I provided information on an analysis of utility-scale wind and solar, showing it is now competitive with gas and coal. The combination of some subsidies and innovation has caused the renewable industry to really break through. Bingo – renewables now compete with fossil fuels.
China has taken a first step. Renewables compete.
Excuses to not act on climate change are fading.