The US and the EU are stepping up their efforts to curb China’s pollution problem.
The Europeans are tripling their funding for environmental projects in China to 60 million euro; a much-needed beginning but only a drop in the bucket of what’s required to seriously tackle the problem at a national level.
What’s more surprising, and encouraging, is the US Senate sending a delegation to China to talk about environmental solutions. America has been slow to join the global warming debate, and the current administration’s statements on the issue have been mostly empty rhetoric. But cooperation between China and the US is essential for effective climate policy.
Although research on climate change does not point to any simple answers, it is clear that cutting carbon emissions will be a useful step. One way forward would be a global market in carbon emissions, where companies from, say, the US could pay for improvements in energy technology and infrastructure in China. Carbon cuts in China would count as reductions in the US company’s own emissions.
The total amount of global CO2 emissions is what matters most, so it makes the most sense to improve the worst emitters first. China’s energy intensity is one of the lowest worldwide, thus improvements in the way it processes, uses, and conserves energy will have some of the lowest investment costs.
With any luck, a sensible policy that includes a global emissions exchange, as well as caps on emissions imposed by individual governments on their different domestic economic sectors, will emerge soon.