USA v China

by nathan thanki

The USA wants to be treated the same as China when it comes to responsibility for tackling climate change. Many environmental NGOs, in the increasingly panicked calls for climate action now, are also prone to saying things like "well of course the emerged economies of Brazil, India and China must also be obliged to reduce emissions." This plays quite well into the rich country strategy of stalling their own ambition (both in terms of reducing their emissions and in terms of financing adaptation and mitigation in developing countries) and worsening the climate crisis, while at the same time setting up an international treaty to lock in China et al to reduce emissions. This ignores the fact that there is already a process for developed countries to reduce–the Kyoto protocol–and for developing countries (plus the USA which is still "developing" in terms of being globally responsible for anything other than blowing stuff up, planning coups and stealing oil) –the track for "long-term cooperative action" or AWG-LCA. This ignores too the hundreds of millions of people living in poverty in these countries for whom emissions reductions are laughable, as they emit next to nothing in the first place. But more than anything, it ignores the past. The graph below illustrates better than I can what that history shows us. 


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