image

Paris climate summit 2015

China has leadership role in fight against climate change

In the wake of US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull his country out of the Paris accord, the world now counts on the leadership of China, Germany and others committed to fighting climate change to steer the way forward

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 1:25am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 June, 2017, 1:25am

China’s stature as a nation with global interests at heart has been amplified with US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull his country out of the Paris climate agreement. Along with the EU, Beijing now has a leadership role in helping ensure the world brings down temperatures to avoid rising seas and severe weather conditions. It will not be an easy task given that the US is the second-biggest polluter. But there is hope, as there are many Americans who reject their president’s short-sighted approach and have already embraced environmentally responsible thinking.

Trump contends climate change is a hoax and that the concept was created by and for China to make American manufacturing uncompetitive. He claims that implementing the Paris accord will cost the US millions of jobs and have a huge economic impact. But the data he has presented to back his assertions has largely come from the energy industry and not all in his administration agree. Dozens of US city mayors have responded by pledging to push ahead with clean energy policies, as have numerous business leaders.

Trump pulls US out of climate pact: is China set to lead?

They are right to ignore the decision; scientific evidence abounds that global warming is a genuine threat to humankind. Former US president Barack Obama, whose deal with China was instrumental to forging the Paris agreement, accurately assessed Trump’s move by calling it a “rejection of the future”. China and 187 countries certainly believed so when they signed the accord in 2015 and committed to keeping rising temperatures well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to strive for 1.5 degrees. Their promises have spurred the renewable energy sector and green industries, creating many times more jobs than have been lost by fossil fuel industries.

China, as the world’s biggest polluter with its largest cities too often choking in carbon dioxide fumes, is only too aware of the benefits. Its plans to spend more than US$361 billion on renewable energy by 2020 to meet climate change goals have created thriving markets for wind and solar power, electric cars, advanced batteries and other technologies. It is fast becoming a world leader in such innovations and is already capturing a substantial share of the global renewables market, estimated to be worth US$6 trillion by 2030. Trump is ignoring those benefits by turning his back on the Paris agreement and putting his faith in the outdated coal, oil and gas industries.

That many in the US disagree with him will lessen the impact of his move. But the world now counts on the leadership of China, Germany and others committed to fighting climate change to steer the way forward. Their combined efforts provide hope that the planet can be saved for future generations.