In the 21st century, the Ebola virus running rampant through West Africa isn’t the only crisis we have at hand. China and Japan’s continued contest over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands isn’t the only large-scale conflict we have to attend to, and unfortunately, stopping Canadian mayors from smoking marijuana isn’t going to cut it in terms of solving today’s issues. As the dominant species on our beloved Earth, we as a human race have a responsibility to make sure to clean up after ourselves. And just like how student officers have to make sure that the delegates of Model United Nations conferences have to strip the conference room clean of empty wrappers, crumbs lying on the floor, plastic bags, etc., the world leaders of today must make sure that their respective nations acknowledge the fragility of the world that we all stand on, and take steps in ensuring that their nations handle the globe with more care.
A great example of this can be seen in President Obama and Xi Jinping’s announcement just today that both the nations they lead, the United States, and the People’s Republic of China, would reduce their Greenhouse gas emissions by about 30%. More specifically, the US would strain to reduce their emission levels by 26-28%, and China would work to increase it’s reliance on non-fossil fuel energy sources by more than 20%. And both nations pledged to do this in the next two decades, which is a significant feat.
Furthermore, the joint statement made by the two powers provides a reliving break from the tense atmosphere usually present in international diplomatic situations when the US and China, the world’s two largest powers as of now, are present. Although they may get along extremely well economically speaking, diplomatically, the history of their “friendship” hasn’t been particularly pleasant. This only shows how joint efforts amongst nations at solving problems of global scale can work to actually provide the world with a unifying goal of international priority.
As the world’s two leading industrial powers, and also the world’s two leading culprits of greenhouse gas emission, this statement does give the US and China a shot at redemption. Furthermore, this pleasant turn of events could also give other nations, such as Russia, or South Korea, some hope in turning their energy-guzzling and environmentally destructive habits around as well. But will China and the US take it? Historically speaking, major superpowers, including the China and the US, aren’t always the best at keeping promises. Most readers will be well aware of the Chinese government’s breaking of the terms of the contract that it had signed with Hong Kong’s administration, ruling the two states separate, and autonomous. On the other hand, the United States and it’s continuous debt ceiling raises, and it’s frequent failures to protect policies of drug control, such as Tobacco control don’t shine very well for the US’s record of promises as well. If both powers really want to convince the international community that they’re committed, and that the rest of the world should get down to saving the planet as well, then China and the US have to start acting like they mean business.
A Tale of Two Superpowers… and their Carbon Emissions
Posted on Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 by Chanwu Oh