US efforts for climate change action hampered by Chinese coal goals

Washington, Mar 04 (AP):
The world’s hopes for curbing climate change hinge on action by two giant nations whose relations are deteriorating: China and the United States. The two countries both say they are intent on retooling their economies to burn less climate-wrecking coal, oil and gas. But tensions between them threaten their ultimate success.
China and the United States are the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 carbon polluters, respectively, pumping out nearly half of the fossil fuel fumes that are warming the planet’s atmosphere.
In 2019, coal accounted for 58% of China’s total primary energy consumption, according to the US Energy Information Administration.
Many experts question whether the construction of coal-fired plants is driven by demand, or simply meant to stimulate the economy during a downturn. Either way, the brand-new coal plants have consequences.
‘Every new coal plant that China builds is basically locking in carbon emissions for the next 50 years,’ said Georgetown’s Lewis.
The fast cuts in carbon needed to stave off the worst of climate change are all but impossible unless these countries work together and basically trust each other’s pledges.
New details of how quickly China plans to reduce carbon emissions will be revealed Friday when Beijing releases its next Five Year Plan. And in April, President Joe Biden is expected to announce the United States’ own new targets for emissions cuts.
The US and China both have appointed veteran envoys as their global climate negotiators, John Kerry and Xie Zhenhua. But while the two senior statesmen worked well together in laying groundwork for the 2015 Paris climate accord, now they face new challenges.
Kerry, a secretary of state under President Barack Obama who was brought back to be Biden’s climate envoy, recently told reporters: ‘Those issues’ with China ‘will never be traded for anything that has to do with climate. That’s not going to happen.’ But Kerry also called the climate ‘a standalone issue’ with China, drawing criticism from China and from some human-rights advocates in the US

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