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As global emissions reach new high, US, China take climate action before COP28

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Fossil fuels accounted for 82% of global energy consumption in 2022, and with that came a new record for annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. It is an issue that the United States and China recently agreed to work on together.

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When combined together, these countries account for 38% of the planet’s greenhouse gasses. On Nov. 14, representatives from both nations announced a deal that aims to increase clean energy, displace fossil fuels and reduce emissions.

The cooperation between the world’s two biggest emitters is occurring ahead of the United Nations’ COP28 climate summit, set to begin at the end of November. Officials from nearly 200 different countries will be gathering in Dubai to discuss global policies regarding climate action, which there is optimism the U.S. and China will now take a leading role on.

“I think it’s important that COP28 be more successful than expected, and that China and the U.S. show leadership on a range of issues in this regard,” John Quelch, a former associate in research at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, told Straight Arrow News.

Leading up to this international conference, the U.N. has released a report detailing how far the world now is from reaching its previously set climate goals.

The report found that even if all countries stuck by their previous climate promises, the emissions total by the end of the decade is set to be considerably greater than the goal amount needed for staying on track to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

The amount of greenhouse gasses being sent into the atmosphere come 2030 would total at least 19 billion tons of CO2 equivalent higher than that target number.

The warning comes amid steadily increasing global emissions in recent years. Though restricted travel and other economic activities due to COVID-19 saw greenhouse gas outputs drop in 2020, ultimately things quickly reversed course. The following year, worldwide demand for coal and natural gas were already hitting pre-pandemic highs, and by 2022, emissions from these two energy sources were back to reaching record-breaking levels.

“Obviously, with COVID, there has been some regression towards fossil fuels and away from the green technology commitments that many nations we’re making pre-COVID,” Quelch said.

Out of the $17 trillion spent by world governments on pandemic recovery efforts, only about 10% of that was spent on initiatives that would cut emissions. Meanwhile, close to 30% of the money went towards projects that are expected to increase emissions. Now with COP28 on the horizon, experts are hopeful that joint climate action efforts between the U.S. and China will help spur renewed progress on this issue.

“We’re going to have to take two steps forward to get past the one step back that the last four years represented,” Quelch said. “So China and the U.S. together can help do that, on behalf of the rest of the world.”

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(JACK ALYMER)

FOSSIL FUELS ACCOUNTED FOR EIGHTY TWO PERCENT OF GLOBAL ENERGY CONSUMPTION IN 20-22-

AND WITH THAT CAME A NEW RECORD FOR ANNUAL WORLDWIDE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS.

IT’S A PROBLEM THE U.S. AND CHINA RECENTLY AGREED TO WORK ON TOGETHER.

TOGETHER, THESE COUNTRIES ACCOUNT FOR THIRTY EIGHT PERCENT OF THE PLANET’S GREENHOUSE GASSES. 

LAST WEEK, REPRESENTATIVES FROM BOTH NATIONS ANNOUNCED A DEAL THAT AIMS TO INCREASE CLEAN ENERGY, DISPLACE FOSSIL FUELS AND REDUCE EMISSIONS.

THIS COOPERATION BETWEEN THE WORLD’S TWO BIGGEST EMITTERS IS OCCURING AHEAD OF THE U.N.’S COP28 CLIMATE SUMMIT, SET TO BEGIN AT THE END OF NOVEMBER 

OFFICIALS FROM NEARLY TWO HUNDRED DIFFERENT COUNTRIES WILL BE GATHERING IN DUBAI TO DISCUSS GLOBAL CLIMATE POLICY.

“I think it’s important that COP28 be more successful than expected, and that China and the US show leadership on a range of issues in this regard,”-John Quelch, former associate in research at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

LEADING UP TO THIS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, THE U.N. HAS RELEASED A REPORT DETAILING HOW FAR THE WORLD NOW IS FROM REACHING ITS PREVIOUSLY SET CLIMATE GOALS. 

THE REPORT FOUND THAT EVEN IF ALL COUNTRIES STUCK BY THEIR PREVIOUS CLIMATE PROMISES, EMISSIONS IN 20-30 WOULD STILL BE CONSIDERABLY HIGHER THAN THE TARGET AMOUNT NEEDED TO STAY ON TRACK FOR REACHING CARBON NEUTRALITY BY 2050.

THE U.N.’S WARNING COMES AMID STEADILY INCREASING GLOBAL EMISSIONS IN RECENT YEARS.

THOUGH RESTRICTED TRAVEL AND LIMITATIONS ON OTHER ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES DUE TO COVID-19 SAW GREENHOUSE GAS OUTPUTS DROP IN 20-20, ULTIMATELY THINGS QUICKLY REVERSED COURSE.

THE FOLLOWING YEAR WORLDWIDE DEMAND FOR COAL AND NATURAL GAS WERE ALREADY HITTING PRE-PANDEMIC HIGHS. 

AND BY 20-22, EMISSIONS FROM THESE TWO ENERGY SOURCES WERE BACK TO HITTING RECORD HIGHS.  

“Obviously, with COVID, there has been some regression towards fossil fuels and away from the green technology commitments that many nations we’re making pre COVID,”-John Quelch, former associate in research at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

OUT OF THE SEVENTEEN TRILLION DOLLARS SPENT BY WORLD GOVERNMENTS ON PANDEMIC RECOVERY EFFORTS, ONLY ABOUT TEN PERCENT OF THAT WAS SPENT INITIATIVES THAT WOULD CUT EMISSIONS. 

MEANWHILE, CLOSE TO THIRTY PERCENT OF THE MONEY WAS SPENT ON PROJECTS THAT ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE EMISSIONS. 

NOW WITH COP28 ON THE HORIZON, EXPERTS ARE HOPEFUL THAT JOINT EFFORTS BETWEEN THE U.S. AND CHINA ON CLIMATE ACTION WILL HELP SPUR RENEWED PROGRESS ON THIS ISSUE. 

“We’re going to have to take two steps forward to get past the one step back that the last four years represented. So China and the US together can help do that, on behalf of the rest of the world.”-John Quelch, former associate in research at Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies