Sunday, January 26, 2014

This Is President Obama’s Plan to Get the World on Board the Fight Against Climate Change

President Obama (Credit: Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images)
On its own, President Obama’s climate action plan is far too little to curb global warming, and he knows it.  But that’s not the point, Obama told reporter David Remnick in a recent interview for the New Yorker.  The point is to show good faith on the issue to China and the rest of the world, and thus build cooperation for a much bigger international push.

“This is why I’m putting a big priority on our carbon action plan here,” Obama explained, when asked about what needs to be done about China’s booming greenhouse gas emissions.  “It’s not because I’m ignorant of the fact that these emerging countries are going to be a bigger problem than us.  It’s because it’s very hard for me to get in that conversation if we’re making no effort.  And it’s not an answer for us to say, ‘Well, since the Chinese and the Indians are the bigger problem, we might as well not even bother.’”

Between China and India, Asia is now the world’s biggest carbon emitting territory, with North America coming in second, and Europe third.  Though in terms of carbon dioxide emitted per person, North America still beats both by a wide margin.  That’s because, as rapidly as China and India are developing, the scale of their emissions still comes primarily from the enormous size of their populations.  America’s emissions result from the size of its economy and its enormous capacity to produce wealth.  That the advanced western economies of Europe have such lower per capita emissions lays bare what a poor job the United States is doing when in comes to reducing the carbon intensity of how it produces that wealth.

This Is President Obama’s Plan to Get the World on Board the Fight Against Climate Change

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