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The US and China are pointing fingers at one another over local weather change


Why it issues

As I wrote about a few weeks in the past within the e-newsletter, one of many main discussions at COP27 was about whether or not richer international locations ought to assist poorer, extra susceptible nations pay for the impacts of local weather change. Local weather disasters had been prime of thoughts this 12 months, particularly after devastating flooding in Pakistan killed over 1,000 folks, displaced hundreds of thousands extra. Whole value estimates topped $40 billion. 

After two weeks of negotiations, delegates at COP27 reached an settlement on financing for loss and injury….type of. There shall be a fund, however how a lot is in it and the way it will work is unclear. Particulars are set to be ironed out at, you guessed it, one other UN local weather convention—COP28 is scheduled for subsequent 12 months in Dubai. 

International locations paying into the loss and damages fund aren’t admitting blame or accepting legal responsibility for local weather damages. However the creation of the fund and all of the discussions round local weather injury have introduced up the query: who acquired us into this mess? And who ought to be paying for it?

Not-so-ancient historical past

On the subject of greenhouse gasoline emissions, historical past issues. Right here’s what I imply by that:

  • Some greenhouse gases, together with carbon dioxide, have lengthy lifetimes: they’re not very reactive, in order that they cling round for a very long time after they’re emitted. 
  • Warming is a perform of the focus of greenhouse gases within the ambiance.
  • So, once we’re speaking about local weather duty, we should always think about complete emissions by means of historical past. 

Once I was first studying about local weather science, this logic floored me. It’s so intuitive, but it surely recast the controversy round nationwide local weather duty in my head. I’d all the time heard that China was the nation we should always all be speaking about when it got here to emissions. They’re the largest local weather polluter in the present day, in any case. 

However while you add up complete emissions, it’s tremendous clear: the US is by far the best complete emitter, answerable for a couple of quarter of all emissions ever. The EU is subsequent, with about 17% of the entire. Lastly now we have China, coming in third. 

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