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Monday, December 5, 2022
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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 have been prime of thoughts this yr, particularly after devastating flooding in Pakistan killed over 1,000 folks, 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….kind 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 yr in Dubai. 

Nations 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 obtained us into this mess? And who must be paying for it?

Not-so-ancient historical past

On the subject of greenhouse fuel 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 ambiance.
  • So, once we’re speaking about local weather accountability, we must always contemplate complete emissions via historical past. 

Once I was first studying about local weather science, this logic floored me. It’s so intuitive, nevertheless it recast the talk round nationwide local weather accountability 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 most important local weather polluter right now, 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 few quarter of all emissions ever. The EU is subsequent, with about 17% of the whole. Lastly now we have China, coming in third. 



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