China Puts Ball Back in America’s Court on Climate Change

Attendees arrive for the Moral Action on Climate Justice rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24. Photographer: Oliver Contreras /Bloomberg
Attendees arrive for the Moral Action on Climate Justice rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24. Photographer: Oliver Contreras /Bloomberg

When President Obama tried to tackle climate change in his first term, he pushed Congress to limit and put a price on carbon pollution, but the so-called cap-and-trade bill died in the Senate in 2010. Among the chief reasons: Lawmakers from both parties feared that any law to cut greenhouse gas emissions would harm the nation’s competitiveness compared with China, which was then emerging as the world’s largest polluter.

Since then, Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates have repeatedly cited China’s lack of action on climate change as the chief reason that the United States should not take stronger action.

On Friday in the Rose Garden, the story of how Washington and Beijing will fight climate change took a stunning turn as President Xi Jinping of China stood with Mr. Obama and announced that China would put in place its own national cap-and-trade system in 2017. Environmentalists hailed the announcement as historic and said that China’s move should effectively end Republicans’ main objection to enacting a domestic climate change policy.

“The ironies are rich,” said David Sandalow, a fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and a former senior official in the Obama administration. “Carbon emissions trading is an American idea. Now it’s an American export. The Europeans have moved forward in implementing it. Now the Chinese are embracing it on a large scale.”

But news of China’s cap-and-trade policy did not seem to change the views of a number of Republican presidential candidates.

“Any deal that our current representatives make with China will allow China to laugh all the way to the bank,” Donald J. Trump, who is leading the Republican field in most polls, said in a statement. “Their negotiators are too smart, sophisticated and cunning for the people representing the U.S. I’d much rather wait until I attain office so that we can make a real deal with China and bring jobs and money back to make America great again.”

Asked about climate change policy during a CNN interview this week, Mr. Trump said that he did not believe in climate change and that climate change policies “imperil our country.” He also said, “By the way, China’s doing nothing.”

In 2012, Mr. Trump posted on Twitter, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.”

Other Republican candidates have expressed similar views. At the Sept. 16 Republican debate, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said: “We are not going to make America a harder place to create jobs in order to pursue policies that will do absolutely nothing, nothing to change our climate, to change our weather, because America is a lot of things, the greatest country in the world, absolutely. But America is not a planet. And we are not even the largest carbon producer anymore, China is. And they’re drilling a hole and digging anywhere in the world that they can get ahold of.”

Click here to continue reading…

The New York Times