Biggest Polluter Won’t Attend Climate Summit, Kerry Pessimistic On Progress
Update: As if to confirm the shitshow we expected below, just two weeks before a crucial summit in Rome, Bloomberg reports that the world’s major economies are gridlocked in their efforts to agree on concrete steps to tackle climate change.
Preparatory talks between G-20 officials this week failed to end in an agreement to reduce coal subsidies and curb methane emissions.
There wasn’t even a consensus on striving toward net-zero emissions and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees from pre-industrial levels, according to three people familiar with the matter.
China and India, two of the world’s biggest emitters and largest coal users, have failed to submit updated climate pledges.
One person described the negotiating round as a disaster.
Are they all suddenly realizing at once – amid the glorious FUBAR situation occurring in global energy markets – that their goals are a) infeasible, b) a giant waste of time and money without China’s firm commitment, and c) will create social unrest and lead to them losing their political power.
* * *
The imminent COP26 Climate Summit – heralded with the mighty goal of 2050 net-zero emissions – looks like being a giant nothing-burger (vegan of course).
According to the study co-authored by a former Obama admin climate policy official, energy modelers, and emissions experts (just go with it), China is now responsible for 27% of total global emissions – more than the combined total produced by the United States (11%), India (6.6%) and the 27 EU member nations together (6.4%).
In fact, as we have noted previously, China’s emissions exceed those of the United States and the rest of the developed world combined…
In 2019, China’s emissions not only eclipsed that of the US—the world’s second-largest emitter at 11% of the global total—but also, for the first time, surpassed the emissions of all developed countries combined (Figure 2). When added together, GHG emissions from all members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as all 27 EU member states, reached 14,057 MMt CO2e in 2019, about 36 MMt CO2e short of China’s total. -Rhodium Group
So it makes you wonder just what can be achieved given that Chinese officials have informed G-20 envoys that Xi does not currently plan to attend a summit in Italy later this month in person, and diplomats have said that means he’s unlikely to go to COP26 either.
This is quite a change from his previous “commitment”:
“We must be committed to multilateralism,” Xi has said in the recent past.
“China looks forward to working with the international community, including the United States, to jointly advance global environmental governance.”
With China in the middle of a serious energy crisis that sees it ramping up its coal production to meet energy demand (sending Thermal Coal prices to the moon), we suspect Xi is missing the Glasgow trip to focus on putting “China first”…
Finally, we note that even Bloomberg is admitting that in an interview with AP, US Climate Envoy John Kerry has already downplayed hopes of success, saying nations could fall short of a new agreement on more aggressive action on global warming.
Specifically, he warned that two weeks of talks could end with countries still short of the emissions targets set by those pushing for more action on climate change.
“We will hopefully be moving very close to that,” he was quoted as saying.
“Though there will be a gap and … we’ve got to be honest about the gap, and we have to use the gap as further motivation to continue to accelerate as fast as we can.”
Greta is going to be so mad at you!!
Lauri Myllyvirta (lead analyst at @CREACleanAir) explains why in the following Twitter thread…
If your theory of how we’re going to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees was that Xi is going to fly to Glasgow, strike a deal with OECD countries where everyone commits to 1.5-degree compatible emissions pathways, and flies home, I have bad news for you.
Continued growth in China’s CO2 emissions until late in the decade is absolutely not acceptable, and that needs to be made clear to Chinese negotiators. But China was never going to “cave” and commit to an earlier peaking date in Glasgow than pledged by Xi.
It will take a lot more pressure and coaxing and leverage than offering a photo-op in Glasgow to change the mind of Chinese decision-makers. And however much leverage you bring to bear, that’s going to be one factor at most alongside domestic considerations.
Also anyone decrying China not going substantially further needs to ask “were we prepared to go much further as a part of a deal” and/or “does our own current commitment rank much higher on the scale of fair and equitable effort than China’s”.
I want the whole climate problem to be sorted at least as much as the next guy, but it’s going to be a long slog.
In the past year and a bit, we’ve had China, South Korea, Japan, EU, UK, US commit to carbon neutrality. That’s not enough but it’s progress. Consolidate that, get holdout countries to pledge something comparable, make clear that’s not yet enough, call it a year.
We look forward to hearing from Larry Fink and the rest of the China apologists to explain just how committed to ESG etc China is after this.
h/t Rúnar O.
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