The entire world is now struggling with global warming. For the past several years, China has adopted strict emissions restrictions and efficiency requirements. On November 26th, China announced that by 2020 it will cut per capita carbon dioxide emissions by between forty and forty-five percent of its 2005 levels. By the first half of this year, China’s per capita energy consumption had declined by thirteen percent of the 2005 levels. By next year, China hopes to increase this to about twenty percent. This is equal to at least 1.5 billion tons of avoided carbon dioxide emissions. China also plans to plant 400 billion hectares of forests in the next ten years. By this time, China will have planted ten trees for every one person in the world. It is fair to say that China’s contribution to the global effort to stem global warming is no less than any other nation’s.
On the other hand, the contributions of the developed countries of Europe and the United States are superficial at best. In truth, this is quite disappointing. The United States is contemplating reducing emissions to seventeen percent of the 2005 rate by 2020, or, in other words, four percent of 1990 levels. This is much less than what the international community expects from the United States. In the global classroom, the U.S. is at the back of the class and it is rapidly losing its chances to catch up.
The U.S. is the world’s largest developed economy and it is the nation with the highest greenhouse gas emissions rate per person. In this capacity, the U.S. has a responsibility and a duty to reduce the negative impacts of greenhouse gas emissions. Right now, the U.S.’s actions are far from enough.