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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 high of thoughts this yr, particularly after devastating flooding in Pakistan killed over 1,000 individuals, displaced thousands and thousands extra. Whole value estimates topped $40 billion. 

After two weeks of negotiations, delegates at COP27 reached an settlement on financing for loss and harm….form of. There will probably 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 yr 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 harm have introduced up the query: who received us into this mess? And who needs to be paying for it?

Not-so-ancient historical past

Relating to 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, so 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 environment.
  • So, once we’re speaking about local weather duty, we must always contemplate whole emissions by historical past. 

After 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 must 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 whenever you add up whole emissions, it’s tremendous clear: the US is by far the best whole emitter, liable for a few quarter of all emissions ever. The EU is subsequent, with about 17% of the full. Lastly we have now China, coming in third. 

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