Berlin For years, power dynamics between the United States and China have determined progress in international climate protection. The two biggest emitters of climate-damaging greenhouse gases tend to stalk each other and reject overzealous action, especially when the other side demands it. The result was climate protection with homeopathy doses, including failed climate summits like the one in Copenhagen. When Washington and Beijing, along with nearly 200 other countries, signed the Paris climate agreement at the end of 2015, it was a diplomatic miracle.
It’s indisputable that little has happened since then. Despite all the negotiations, despite all the warnings to limit global warming to 1.5°C if possible in a pre-industrial comparison, emissions are on the rise. The world is in a 2.7 degree cycle.
The trend reversal is long overdue, so the announcement of the 20 largest economies after their weekend meeting in Rome is more than pathetic. The fact that Chinese head of state Xi Jinping is moving away from Glasgow does not indicate that the giant empire, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, intends to toughen its earlier declarations in the next few days. Peak CO2 emissions before 2030, GHG neutral by 2060 and therefore ten years from the EU – likely to remain that way for now.
Yet it is a spectacle not worthy of what the United States, which has just returned to the ranks of climate saviors, is offering at the start of the World Climate Conference in Glasgow. The fact that US President Joe Biden is accusing China and Russia of being unwilling to make commitments on climate protection will not motivate the two countries to offer more incentives.
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Russia’s reaction is no different from that of the People’s Republic. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has already made it clear that his country is currently not ready to enter into international commitments beyond the well-known goal: carbon dioxide neutrality no later than 2060.
China, Russia and India: Everyone must step forward
It is true that China and Russia could be more ambitious. India, the emerging country, also needs to step things up. And the list goes on. But in light of the climate change drama, it is time to join hands rather than maneuver the major players into the blockade.
What did Chancellor Angela Merkel say at the conclusion of the G-20 meeting in Rome? “Somehow everyone understood that everyone lives on one planet.” This gives hope.
more: Higher ambitions, more money: How the global climate conference can remain a success after obscure G-20 decisions
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