We have a real chance of a deal with China before the big international talks in Copenhagen this December (see “Exclusive: Have China and the U.S. been holding secret talks aimed at a climate deal this fall?“). But it won’t be easy, especially since the 2020 target in the Waxman-Markey climate bill falls far short of the 40% cut from 1990 levels that China recently demanded developing nations achieve by 2020. A confused New York Times story yesterday noted, “A leading Beijing expert on climate change economics, Zhang Shiqiu, said Wednesday that she was optimistic that the two nations would reach some accord on global warming before the Copenhagen meeting,” but then misreported, “The Center for American Progress, a Democratic-leaning research organization, said in a report published Wednesday that the House legislation was unlikely to win enough Chinese support for the two nations to present a united front at the Copenhagen talks in December.” In fact, leading international experts from CAP also believe a deal is doable — and that Waxman-Markey helps — as they explain in a post first published here and reprinted below (along with their response to the NYT).
UPDATE: The Times has agreed to correct the mistake in their story. The squeaky wheel does get greased!
We are now entering the six-month period before the U.N. climate change negotiations in Copenhagen, which are intended to hammer out a successor treaty to the Kyoto protocol that expires in 2012. Progress on climate policy domestically will increase U.S. leverage in these talks, but President Barack Obama should look for additional ways to improve the American negotiating position than what we currently have on the table.
In particular we need a better accounting of what the United States””and other countries as well””are doing to achieve meaningful carbon reductions. Importantly, a more detailed analysis would reveal that the American Clean Energy and Security Act, or ACES, recently passed through committee by Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Edward Markey (D-MA), would achieve more carbon reduction than first meets the eye.
The soft underbelly of ACES is its 2020 midterm carbon cap targets, which have been assailed by some environmentalists. At 17 percent below 2005 levels these targets apparently give the Obama administration precious little to meet global expectations about U.S. action on climate change. For starters these caps fall below the European Union’s agreed-upon 20 percent reductions below 1990 levels by 2020. If we were to meet our allies at these goals then the European Union will increase their midterm reductions to 30 percent. At its current levels ACES does not trigger this critical shift.
More troubling, there are already clear signs that ACES’s targets are far less than we need to garner China’s full engagement in an international agreement on capping emissions.