Con­tinue in­ter­ac­tions with US to fight cli­mate change

China Daily (Canada) - - NEWS CAPSULE -

What will be Don­ald Trump’s im­pact on Sino-US co­op­er­a­tion on cli­mate change after he is sworn in asUS pres­i­dent in Jan­uary?

Ac­cord­ing to the Paris cli­mate change agree­ment, theUS has promised to cut its green­house gas emis­sion by 17 per­cent by 2020 and 26 to 28 per­cent by 2025 com­pared with the 2005 level. That tar­get can­not be re­al­ized un­less theUS hon­ors its com­mit­ment by tak­ing ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion.

To meet its promise, theUS has to trans­form its power plants, cur­rently the largest green­house gas emit­ters, into green sources of en­ergy. But that seems un­likely, be­cause theUS Supreme Court has de­cided to post­pone the move.

Nev­er­the­less, cer­tainUS states and in­dus­tries have al­ready started tak­ing mea­sures to re­duce emis­sions, and their poli­cies and ac­tions might in turn in­flu­ence theUS fed­eral govern­ment’s even­tual de­ci­sion. For ex­am­ple, the per­cent­age of coal-gen­er­ated elec­tric­ity in theUS’ power in­dus­try mix dropped from about 50 per­cent in 2008 to 33 per­cent in 2015 thanks to the “shale gas rev­o­lu­tion”. And ther­mal plants were us­ing greener power-gen­er­at­ing meth­ods. There­fore, there is rea­son to be op­ti­mistic.

Be­sides, some ex­perts say that al­most al­lUS pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates play the “China-card” dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign, yet after en­ter­ing of­fice, they main­tain good re­la­tions with China be­cause it is in the best in­ter­est of Wash­ing­ton.

It is un­cer­tain whether Trump will act on what he said dur­ing his cam­paign— of tak­ing ac­tion against China if he won the pres­i­dency. But whether or not Trump hon­ors the Barack Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s promise to fight cli­mate change on a pri­or­ity ba­sis, Bei­jing has to con­tinue its dia- logue and in­ter­ac­tions with Wash­ing­ton on the is­sue, be­cause by push­ing joint ef­forts for­ward, it will serve the com­mon in­ter­ests of all as well as in­crease its global in­flu­ence.

There­fore, China should con­tinue its global mul­ti­lat­eral cli­mate gov­er­nance and stick to the Bei­jing-Wash­ing­ton co­op­er­a­tive frame­work. Fight­ing cli­mate change is im­por­tant on mul­ti­lat­eral plat­forms, not least be­cause China has gained a lead­er­ship sta­tus on the is­sue. It’s time China made good use of that lead­er­ship and strength­ened global co­op­er­a­tion.

Be­sides, if the China-US co­op­er­a­tive mech­a­nism comes to a halt, China should en­cour­age co­op­er­a­tion at the lo­cal gov­ern­men­tal level and through un­of­fi­cial chan­nels. For the past sev­eral years, Chi­nese and US ci­ties have forged co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tion­ships to fight cli­mate change, and the two coun­tries have made joint state­ments on cli­mate change. China should make bet­ter use of such co­op­er­a­tive mech­a­nisms to deepen China-US co­op­er­a­tion.

In other words, what­ever pol­icy the in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion adopts, China can al­ways deepen its co­op­er­a­tion with the US to fight cli­mate change be­cause that will not only serve the in­ter­ests of both sides, but also ex­pand Bei­jing’s global in­flu­ence.

The author is di­rec­tor of In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Depart­ment in Na­tional Cen­ter for Cli­mate Change Strat­egy and In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion.

For Asia-Pa­cific coun­tries, es­pe­cially Ja­pan and the Repub­lic of Korea, they still don’t know what to ex­pect from the next US ad­min­is­tra­tion as Trump has said dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign thatWash­ing­ton’s al­lies in the re­gion must do more to de­fend them­selves and con­trib­ute more to main­tain US mil­i­tary pres­ence in their ter­ri­to­ries.

Yet the US’ strate­gic con­trac­tion glob­ally will not be as bad as some fear. On the con­trary, it could help right the wrongs the US has done in re­cent years in its “war on ter­ror” and mil­i­tary ma­neu­ver­ings in the Asia-Pa­cific.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­luc­tance to ac­tively fight ter­ror­ists and ex­trem­ists, es­pe­cially the Is­lamic State ter­ror­ist group in theMid­dle East, has been widely crit­i­cized. And theUS’ in­ter­fer­ence pol­icy in the re­gion, cou­pled with the covert arm­ing of rebel forces to or­ches­trate a regime change in coun­tries like Libya and Syria, is largely to blame for the rise in ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism in the re­gion. Hence, the in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion should adopt a harder line on ter­ror­ism and clean up the mess theUS has helped cre­ate in the Mid­dle East.

In the Asia-Pa­cific, Obama’s “pivot to Asia” strat­egy, a move widely seen as in­tended to con­tain China’s rise, has not only soured re­la­tions with China but also height­ened ten­sions in the South China Sea, asWash­ing­ton has used the mar­itime dis­putes be­tween China and some South­east Asian coun­tries to beef up its mil­i­tary pres­ence in the re­gion.

TheUS is not a party to any of the South China Sea dis­putes, and its in­ter­fer­ence has harmed re­gional co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east AsianNa­tions and China and other re­gional part­ners.

Worse, coun­tries in the re­gion were forced to take sides in the dis­putes and thus be dis­tracted from far more im­por­tant is­sues of re­gional devel­op­ment and in­te­gra­tion. Had the South China Sea and East China Sea re­mained peace­ful, coun­tries in the re­gion could have de­voted more en­ergy into trans­lat­ing the re­gional devel­op­ment blue­print into ac­tion and thus con­tribut­ing more to global eco­nomic re­cov­ery.

The ten­sions cre­ated by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion over the South China Sea dis­putes have served no­body’s in­ter­ests. And the de­vel­op­ments of the past years show the “pivot toAsia” strat­egy has been coun­ter­pro­duc­tive, even in serv­ingUS in­ter­ests.

The Philip­pines, a closeWash­ing­ton ally and used by the US to pro­voke China over mar­itime dis­putes, has made a U-turn by choos­ing to im­prove ties with China and dis­tanc­ing it­self from the US.

As China and the US both have high stakes in the peace­ful devel­op­ment of the Asia- Pa­cific, they ought to co­op­er­ate with, rather than con­front, each other to build peace and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion. The in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion should make the right choice.

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