That was over faster than a knife fight in a phone box. One minute the US and China are ready to join forces to save the world, the next they split on the precise mechanism for measuring that modest aim.
Barely three weeks ago, US President Barack Obama announced a climate deal with China that committed the world’s two biggest polluters to lowering their emissions by 2030.
The Chinese promised not just to peak their emissions by 2030 but to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in their energy mix to 20 percent by the same date.
For its part, the US would cut greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent on 2005 levels by 2025.
Huzzah, climate catastrophists cheered, Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama have shown what is possible when it comes to tackling what they describe as “the greatest crisis of our age.”
“This announcement is a political signal from these two countries. If we understand it as a signal, it is a good thing and it is a first for China to stand up and say it will cap its emissions,” Samantha Smith, the leader of the WWF’s Global Climate and Energy Initiative, chirruped at the news.
Today it seems nobody will ever be able to tell if China keeps its part of the deal because the secretive Communist state wants to block any outside countries from measuring its carbon pollution levels.
According to The South China Morning Post, China is seeking to remove draft provisions for targets to be subject to other countries’ scrutiny.
We’ll just have to trust that they’ll do as they say.
The revelation came to light at the COP 20 climate meeting underway in Lima, Peru.
The Post reports that China’s negotiators in Lima sought to delete provisions in a draft text that would have paved the way for other countries and non-governmental organisations to submit questions about its carbon-reduction plans.
The pledges will be included in a global deal to be sealed next year at another meeting in Paris.
Such a brief display of bi-partisanship is not what US lead climate envoy Todd Stern imagined when Obama sealed his original deal.
Stern told reporters in Lima that all national pledges should be subject to scrutiny by other countries, saying “the sunshine is intended to prod countries to be as ambitious as possible” in limiting carbon emissions.
Liz Gallagher, senior adviser to the London-based policy analyst group E3G, was just as deflated.
“The spirit of constructive cooperation of the US-China agreement seems to have come to a full stop,” she said in an interview.
So, that’s that then. China has rejected any scientific review of its emission pledges and Obama is left looking rather foolish because his agreement has no verifiable teeth.
The seeming not the doing triumphs again.