After 18 years of the Kyoto Protocol, several countries will gather this November at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. We can expect stricter standards for lowering greenhouse gas emissions to be enforced. Just a few days ago, China’s President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed the U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change, which has a lot of implications.
Because the Clinton administration did not submit the Kyoto Protocol to Congress, the U.S. is not a party to the treaty. China may be a party, but its rapid industrial development in the past 10 years has also yielded heavy greenhouse gas emissions. The two countries now express themselves on the issue once more; not only does Obama take a stand against climate change, Xi also emphasizes that China will have a peaceful rise and is willing to help make this world a beautiful place.
To Taiwanese businesses, this joint announcement opens several opportunities. Xi promises that in 2030, carbon dioxide levels will be 60 percent lower than they were in 2005, forests will grow by 4.5 billion cubic meters (15.9 billion cubic feet), and in 2017, China will launch a carbon emissions market.
Other measures include green architecture and additional public transportation. We can imagine how this announcement will affect urban policy in China.
One thing that is noteworthy is that China, besides promising “green” energy and, at the very most, renewable energy, also aims to develop a fossil fuel energy source with high efficiency and low emissions: nuclear power. Compared to international development trends like this, Taiwan’s renewable energy sources are too few, and the topic of nuclear power is touchy, which is very concerning.
This announcement, besides emphasizing that climate change should be controlled at 2 degrees Celsius, also brings up the importance of adaptation. The Paris conference that China and the U.S. will attend, besides covering gas emission control, should also approve the fact that adaptation is the key to combating climate change for the entire world. The countries’ announcement is heartwarming but serious; it expresses a willingness to assist poorer countries while it also expresses true feelings. Industrial development cannot return to its past state, and climate is always changing, so the best remedy is early adaptation.
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