IMGXYZ1248IMGZYX The United States and China must make accommodations to curb greenhouse gas emissions if both countries are to break their “suicide pact” of self-destructive, energy-using behavior. Together they produce 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, yet both countries demand that the other take responsibility for climate change, meanwhile the threat of environmental disaster grows. For the first time, China is considering an emissions target while half of U.S. states have set their own targets—the time for a deal is now.
In Breaking the Suicide Pact: U.S.-China Cooperation on Climate Change, William Chandler, director of the Carnegie Energy and Climate Program, identifies practical, non treaty-based approaches both countries could take to cut their carbon dioxide emissions across economic sectors—with little financial impact. He argues that China and the United States should work together to set individual, national goals and achieve them through domestically enforceable measures and international agreements that prevent either nation from taking advantage of steps taken by the other.
Key Recommendations for U.S.-China Cooperation:
- Eliminate subsidies that discourage energy efficiency.
- Provide tax breaks for investment in efficiency and low-carbon energy and impose tax penalties on high-carbon energy.
- Make climate cooperation integral to trade policy, such as jointly setting production standards to limit the energy used to manufacture exports.
- Create partnerships between Chinese provincial officials and leaders in U.S. states on the forefront of climate change prevention to improve implementation of innovative energy policies.
- Promote market penetration of existing carbon emission reduction technologies and encourage development of new technologies by linking American laboratories more closely to Chinese markets to share research and development costs.
- Encourage banks in China to remove the regulatory cap on interest rates for energy-efficiency investments.
“U.S.–China collaboration poses no threat to the climate leadership of any region or nation or to global cooperation. It is a complement, not a challenge, to existing and planned emissions cap and trade systems. This act of mutual self-preservation would help the United States and China to avert climate disaster and the eventual sanctions of other nations if they do not act, and lay the groundwork for successful global action,” concludes Chandler.
About the Author
William Chandler is the director of the Carnegie Energy and Climate Program and has spent over 35 years working in energy and environmental policy.