Donald Trump’s Global Warming Stance Denounced by China
In the wake of the failure of the U.N. summit in Copenhagen in 2010 to agree on methods to reduce global warming, an internal Chinese government think tank document obtained by Western media revealed their fears of a rich nation’s “conspiracy to divide the developing world” and stifle the rapidly growing Chinese economy with onerous and expensive environmental regulations China could ill afford.
In 2016, however, the shoe is on the other foot. Reuters reports that lead Chinese climate negotiator Xie Zhenhua, the same man who led the delegation accused by disgruntled Western leaders of ruining the Copenhagen summit through stonewalling and intransigence, has broken with Chinese civic norms to criticize Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s lack of interest in environmental stewardship.
While Chinese government officials typically do not comment publicly on foreign elections save to defend Chinese policy when it is criticized, Xie took public issue with Trump’s recent threats to abandon the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, saying that “a wise political leader should take policy stances that conform with global trends” and that he believed a failure to do so would lose Trump’s administration “the support of their people” and could negatively affect “the social and economic progress” of the United States.
Trump, for his part, has taken a page from the Chinese playbook and claimed manmade climate change is a Chinese hoax designed to cripple the American economy. Nearly all scientists disagree, and the overwhelming majority of evidence indicates that climate change is both real and manmade.
While few, if any, American politicians have stated that global warming is a Chinese hoax, Trump’s anti-Paris agreement stance is comfortably within the American political mainstream. The agreement was ratified by both China and the U.S. this September in advance of the G20 meeting in Hangzhou, and is currently set to take effect Friday, but Senate Republicans have questioned the legality of the executive order used by President Barack Obama to ratify it without the Senate’s explicit consent. Twenty-seven state governments have also mounted a court challenge against the Clean Power Plan, which the federal government hopes will clean up emissions from American power plants. The U.S. was also one of the few nations not to sign on to the 1997 Kyoto protocols, which preceded both the Copenhagen failure and the Paris agreement as the international consensus on reducing carbon emissions and curbing global warming.
China still has deep-seated environmental issues and is the world’s largest source of carbon emissions, but the Chinese government has shown a fairly radical shift in its attitude toward reducing emissions since Copenhagen. State-run news agency Xinhua has called the Paris agreement “conducive to China’s development interests” and “a major milestone for global climate negotiations.” China’s verbal support for reduced emissions has been matched by ambitious plans for a national carbon-trading scheme, which will be fully implemented next year and whose pilot has already generated 3.2 billion yuan in transactions (almost $500 million USD), according to Reuters. China has also set targets in its latest five-year economic plan to increase its renewable energy consumption to 20 percent and to peak its carbon emissions by 2030.