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Local solutions to climate change

Oilfield Technology,

According to William Antholis of the Brookings Institution, the degree to which China and India commit themselves to cutting emissions critically depends on how far the US and EU go in implementing their own carbon reduction plans.

China and India have regularly pledged greater cooperation with the US and Europe on finding reliable, affordable and sustainable sources of energy and have participated in a series of clean energy ministerial meetings.

Antholis explains that these efforts have not been entirely wasted, but American and European energy relations with both India and China will remain unsettles and troubled at worst. The two emerging countries have watched as the developed world only slowly begins to limit its carbon footprint.

Moving forward, China and India will be particularly interested in the manner in which the US goes about implementing Obama administration emissions pledges. In the same way that the EU’s various countries implement EU pledges on climate change, America’s states will be on the front lines of new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposals).

In India and China, states, provinces and localities are often key movers on energy issues. When it comes to establishing national policies on climate change, different regions face off against one another.

Implementing local solutions to a global problem

Antholis emphasises that the federal dimension to climate and energy politics is not a new development in the US and Europe. The EU has been a leader in combating climate change, mostly because the three major European powers – Germany, England, and France – made costly decisions to shift from coal to nuclear and natural gas in the 1980s.

Energy and environmental officials of these nations were able to convince southern and eastern members to commit to log term emission cutting goals. The southern and eastern members’ ability to meet these goals however remains an uncertainty, particularly as the EU looks ahead to deeper reduction before 2030. Poland, Slovakia and Italy still have a long way to go to bring down their carbon emissions, according to Brookings.

Similarly in the US, the effort to address global warming have been led largely by states on the East and West Coasts, and have been looking for action for decades. In contrast, Senators from most of the American South and West have helped to block national climate laws. And while Republican governors signed state level climate laws into effect, Democrats in West Virginia, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Missouri helped to lead the fight against national legislation.

Antholis explains that China and India both have states that are innovating to fight climate change and have been urging their leaders to take a more provocative stance. However, the poorer regions in these countries are desperate for growth and see implementing climate policy as a luxury that they cannot afford.

Hence solutions must come from the bottom up, with local leaders taking action in the way most suitable for the region. According to Brookings, this is true or the US, for the EU and for China and India. 

Adapted from a report by Emma McAleavey.

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