By Elena Avesani, Principal Strategy Manager, Oracle
September 2015 marked two remarkable events in the fight
against global warming. Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress on
Sept. 24, the first time the head of the Roman Catholic Church has addressed
the body, and called on Congress to protect our environment, laying out the argument presented in his June 2015 “Laudato Si” Encyclical Letter for a new partnership
between science and religion to combat human-driven climate change.
The following day, President Obama and President Xi reaffirmed
sweeping climate commitments to combat global warming following the U.S. –
China joint announcement on climate change of November 12, 2014, which marked
the first time China has agreed to peak its CO2 emissions. The actions
announced are also meant to inject momentum into the global climate
negotiations on the road to reaching a successful new climate agreement next
year in Paris.
China's commitments include the creation of the world’s
largest carbon market through a national emission trading system to be launched
by 2017, the opening of the electricity market to prioritize renewable power
generation and fossil fuel power generation of higher efficiency and lower
emission levels, the implementation of green building standards by 2020 for 50
percent of all new urban development, and new fuel efficiency standard for
medium and heavy-duty trucks. Notably, the new carbon market will cover
approximately 60 percent of China’s energy-related carbon dioxide emissions,
which were roughly 10 billion metric tons in 2014.
The United States’ equally ambitious commitments include
strengthening the Clean Power Plan
announced in August 2015, improving fuel efficiency standards of trucks and
implementing them by 2019, finalizing 20 efficiency standards for appliances
and equipment and 2 new standards to limit methane emissions from landfills by the
end of 2016. These actions are critical, as the effects of methane on climate
change are 25 times greater than those of CO2 over a 100-year period.
Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
recently announced that it will prohibit some of the most damaging forms of hydrofluorocarbons
(HFCs) from several end uses in 2016. China has matched this commitment with a plan
to reduce HFCs that includes steps to reduce HFC-23 emissions before 2020.
The countries have also committed to extending research
collaboration efforts on energy and water issues, and strengthening bilateral
collaboration at the national and city levels to help accelerate clean energy
solutions. The two countries have also pledged $6 billion in additional funding
to support similar low-carbon solutions in the developing world.
Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change
Outlet: “Today's U.S.-China Announcement is the Most Significant Milestone
to Date for Battling Global Climate Change
Si” Encyclical Letter