Emis­sions re­port casts doubt on Paris ac­cord

China still pol­lut­ing as U.S. cleans air

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

Two years af­ter nearly ev­ery na­tion on earth signed the land­mark Paris cli­mate ac­cord, re­searchers say the deal is fail­ing to live up to its mis­sion as China drives a spike in global car­bon emis­sions, re­vers­ing years of steady de­cline.

The sober­ing news comes as world lead­ers gather in Ger­many for a high­level cli­mate sum­mit de­signed to mar­shal sup­port for the Paris agree­ment and to en­cour­age coun­tries to make even more am­bi­tious com­mit­ments to cut their own pol­lu­tion.

Other na­tions have been crit­i­cal of Pres­i­dent Trump for an­nounc­ing over the sum­mer that the U.S. would pull out of the deal, but data re­leased Mon­day show that Amer­i­can emis­sions are still drop­ping while those of China and other coun­tries are back on the rise.

Sev­eral stud­ies re­leased by the Global Car­bon Project say world­wide car­bon emis­sions are pro­jected to jump about 2 per­cent this year af­ter stay­ing flat for three years, ac­cord­ing to pre­lim­i­nary


The cul­prit, the data show, is China, which has kept its emis­sions in check in re­cent years but now shows a mas­sive rise in pol­lu­tion. Un­der the Paris pact, China agreed to cap its emis­sions by 2030, mean­ing it is still free to in­crease pol­lu­tion.

China’s uptick this year, af­ter a 1 per­cent drop in 2015 and flat emis­sions last year, is largely a re­sult of the coun­try’s in­creased use of fos­sil fu­els.

More broadly, re­searchers say, the data show the Paris agree­ment is not work­ing as in­tended.

“Global com­mit­ments made in Paris in 2015 to re­duce emis­sions are still not be­ing matched by ac­tions,” said Glen Peters, a re­search di­rec­tor at Cicero’s Cen­ter for In­ter­na­tional Cli­mate Re­search.

“It is far too early to pro­claim that we have turned a cor­ner and started the jour­ney to­ward zero emis­sions. While emis­sions may rise 2 per­cent in 2017, it is not pos­si­ble to say whether this is a re­turn to growth or a one-off in­crease,” said Mr. Peters, who led one of the re­ports that was in­cluded in the sweep­ing Global Car­bon Project study.

Chi­nese emis­sions are pro­jected to rise by 3.5 per­cent this year, ac­cord­ing to the study. China is the world’s largest pol­luter and ac­counts for nearly 30 per­cent of all world­wide car­bon emis­sions.

In­dia’s emis­sions also are ex­pected to rise by 2 per­cent, though that is a much smaller in­crease than in re­cent years.

U.S. emis­sions, by con­trast, are pro­jected to de­cline by 0.4 per­cent this year. That is less of a de­cline than in re­cent years, re­search shows, but still un­der­scores that tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments and a mar­ket shift away from coal in Amer­ica are hav­ing tan­gi­ble ef­fects.

Euro­pean emis­sions also are ex­pected to de­cline slightly this year.

The news doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean China is fall­ing short of its prom­ises be­cause the na­tion has to do vir­tu­ally noth­ing be­fore 2030. But it’s still a trou­bling sign that high­lights long-stand­ing com­plaints about the cli­mate ac­cord, mainly that it pe­nal­izes the U.S. in the short term and al­lows China to keep pol­lut­ing.

The Paris deal re­quired the U.S. to cut its emis­sions by at least 26 per­cent by 2025 when com­pared with 2005 lev­els. Mr. Trump shelved that com­mit­ment in June, say­ing the agree­ment was un­fair to the U.S. and let other ma­jor pol­luters — specif­i­cally China and In­dia — off the hook.

The data re­leased Mon­day ap­pear to back up his contention.

Mean­while, the U.S. has be­come some­thing of an in­ter­na­tional pariah at the Ger­many sum­mit even though its emis­sions re­main on a down­ward tra­jec­tory.

U.S. of­fi­cials on Mon­day held an event fo­cused on cleaner fos­sil fu­els and nu­clear power, and how those tra­di­tional power sources can help mit­i­gate dam­age to the cli­mate.

But the fo­rum re­port­edly was in­ter­rupted by dozens of pro­test­ers who chanted, “You claim to be an Amer­i­can, but we see right through your greed.”

David Banks, a spe­cial as­sis­tant to Mr. Trump on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues, said the event could be con­sid­ered con­tro­ver­sial only “if we choose to bury our heads in the sand” about the need for clean fos­sil fu­els, Reuters re­ported.

Nev­er­the­less, en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists largely ig­nored the find­ings that U.S. emis­sions are headed down while China is fu­el­ing a world­wide in­crease. In­stead, they ham­mered the ad­min­is­tra­tion for even bring­ing up the no­tion of con­tin­ued fos­sil fuel use.

“Noth­ing could en­cap­su­late the ex­treme tone-deaf­ness and iso­la­tion of this ad­min­is­tra­tion more than an event to cel­e­brate fos­sil fu­els dur­ing this im­por­tant global cli­mate meet­ing,” said John Coe­quyt, global cli­mate pol­icy di­rec­tor at the Sierra Club, one of the world’s lead­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal groups.

As for emis­sions, re­searchers sug­gest the data show that the re­al­ity of con­trol­ling pol­lu­tion is far dif­fer­ent from the prom­ises any coun­try makes un­der the Paris ac­cord. For ex­am­ple, China’s eco­nomic growth this year has fu­eled the need for more en­ergy, and the coun­try is re­ly­ing on fos­sil fu­els to meet that need de­spite its prom­ises un­der Paris.

Emis­sions in­creases could con­tinue in the com­ing years with­out ag­gres­sive ac­tion, an­a­lysts said.

“The slow­down in emis­sions growth from 2014 to 2016 was al­ways a del­i­cate bal­ance, and the likely 2 per­cent in­crease in 2017 clearly demon­strates that we can’t take the re­cent slow­down for granted,” said Rob­bie An­drew, a se­nior re­searcher at Cicero who also co-au­thored the stud­ies.


SKY HIGH: China has kept its emis­sions in check in re­cent years but now shows a mas­sive rise in pol­lu­tion. Un­der the Paris pact, China agreed to cap its emis­sions by 2030. Its dirty air is largely a re­sult of the in­creased use of fos­sil fu­els.


China has faced some of the worst air pol­lu­tion in the world, blamed on its re­liance of coal for en­ergy and fac­tory pro­duc­tion, as well as a sur­plus of older, less-ef­fi­cient cars on its roads. Still, it is al­lowed to in­crease emis­sions un­der the Paris ac­cord.

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