Key US Business Group Gets First Female Leader and Pro-Climate Outlook (1)


Feb. 10, 2021 — US Chamber of Commerce names Suzanne Clark as new CEO, replacing Thomas Donohue, who led the organisation for more than two decades, WSJ reported.

Days before Mr. Biden was sworn into office, the Chamber took its strongest position yet in favor of climate-change legislation: WSJ

Another fascinating two sentences:

In 2019, the Chamber said Mr. Donahue would step down in 2022—an announcement that came moments after The Wall Street Journal published a story reporting that Mr. Donohue regularly used the Chamber’s corporate jet service to travel on business and personal trips, including a weeklong trip to the Greek Islands in 2019 with his girlfriend.

At the time, the Chamber said it would conduct an extensive search for a successor.

Full story:

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

United Nations to Resume Global Carbon Market Talks in March

By Mathew Carr

Feb. 9, 2021 — LONDON: The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change is to resume talks in March on measures that may allow countries to cut the cost of climate action via cooperation.

It plans to hold talks this month on adaptation. Specific dates of the virtual talks during the next two months are not yet decided.

The negotiations are needed ahead of a planned climate meeting in November in Glasgow, which was delayed a year because of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Cooperation rules on market cooperation and via non-market measures are negotiated under Article 6 of Paris. See this:

Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding on

Here are some of the relevant sections of text:

During consultations, “Parties outlined many issues that need to be resolved in Glasgow. We noted consistent mention of the importance of finalizing the Paris Agreement work programme – Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, transparency, and common timeframes – and addressing finance, adaptation, loss and damage, mitigation and ambition. We also heard the importance of ensuring that all issues are addressed in a comprehensive and balanced manner while noting that issues may require different modes of work and/or different levels of engagement to be resolved.

In discussing the plans for the June session, the Executive Secretary provided a frank assessment of the current state of play in Germany and globally which made planning for an in-person session very challenging, including the fact that currently such large events were not allowed in Germany. Noting the views expressed by Parties during the consultations, the secretariat will therefore work closely with the Presiding Officers to explore how work could be undertaken in June that meets the criteria of
advancing work while respecting the concerns expressed regarding decision-making outside of an in-person session. The Presiding Officers and the secretariat reassured Parties of their intention to maintain flexibility in their planning to respond to improvements in the global situation prior to Glasgow.

We look forward to meeting with you in this format monthly to accelerate progress on specific topics to be identified. We noted the concerns expressed regarding time zone challenges and we committed to rotating the times of these monthly consultations so that no region is consistently disadvantaged. In light of the priorities articulated by Parties, as indicated, the February and March consultations will explore ways to accelerate progress on adaptation and on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement respectively.

Last week, UNFCCC executive secretary urged nations to be ambitious.


A Polar Bear Dreams Up January 2021 Climate Resolutions –Not All of 2021 (2)

–Young bear hit by oil drilling, dashing hopes for ambitious January

By Mathew Carr and others

Dec. 27, 2020-Jan. 9, 2021 — LONDON: Since nearly 200 nations were supposedly set to finish tightening their contributions to the Paris agreement by the end of last year (Dec. 31 — we assume, because there’s a deadline under that ratified UN deal), they’ll be up for getting cracking on unprecedented climate action starting January 2021.

Here’s how a fictional baby polar bear, let’s call him Yao, would like to see humans play January out, day by day … but it hasn’t gone so well so far.

(I’ll update this during the next few days/weeks – please send ideas my way for specific January 2021 climate actions at — can be for the record or you can indicate off-record steers … there are plenty of gaps to fill):

Photo by Robert Anthony Carbone on

Friday, Jan. 1.

Among the most cost-effective and politically expedient climate action is cutting low-hanging-fruit emissions in emerging nations, financed by wealthier nations most responsible for the climate crisis. These moves also help heal climate injustices, Yao reckons.

Yao likes the idea of cutting many tons of emissions with 32 euros rather than just one ton (– that’s the closing 2020 price on the world’s biggest carbon market in Europe, according to ICE Futures Europe).

Countries are already using Article 6 of the Paris climate deal (for instance) to drive cost-efficient emission cuts via projects worth at least $1.4 billion, a fourfold rise within 18 months, according to Carbon Pulse. See this from a fascinating report this month by Climate Finance Innovators:

Since the European Union and it’s former member Britain have set more ambitious emission targets for 2030, Yao dreams they could resolve to provide an extra incentive to emerging nations by AGAIN tightening their Paris pledges, too, first thing in 2021 — preferably on Jan. 1.

The EU could pledge to go for a 75% emissions cut by 2030 vs 1990 instead of its current target of 55%.

It could do so by promising to help finance cheaper greenhouse gas reductions in the emerging world, using article 6. Similarly, the U.K. could go for 80% instead of its new 68% reduction target.

Yao’s not the only one dreaming of this. So is Yvo De Boer, former executive secretary of the UNFCCC:

Tighter targets will get climate money flowing where it is most cost effective.

By sending this signal, the European nations could show they are very serious about hitting Paris’s target for keeping temperature gains as low as 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Yao likes these moves because they help modernize developing nations, many of which have signalled they are willing to adopt tighter 2030 targets assuming the promised finance and assistance and technology — promised by richer nations for three decades — finally arrives.

The landscape is already becoming impressive:

Climate Finance Innovators:


Saturday, Jan. 2

Dozens of nations announce they’ll participate in reverse auctions to win finance to protect forests and grow new ones, absorb greenhouse gases using new farming techniques, slash industrial emissions, shift away from fossil fuels, Yao hopes.

Theses reverse auctions could spur 100s of billions of euros of finance (though weirdly it’s unclear how much they’ll be used in 2021).

See this:

Such auctions of put options have previously resulted in price guarantees for emission credits at $2.40 (1.97 euros) a metric ton, five times Thursday’s benchmark price on ICE Futures Europe. In an auction earlier this year, the price was lower — fifteen winners paid $0.30 for the right to sell a carbon credit to a facility at $1.98 per credit.

See this:

Such auctions could be enough to start investments in 1,000s of emissions projects around the world, especially in poorer nations where greenhouse gas reductions come cheaper.


Sunday, Jan. 3

Yao would love it if even more countries around the world agree to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, policies that are effectively paying companies to pollute and worsen the climate crisis.

They are effectively a negative carbon price — effectively rewarding companies for bad behavior.


Monday, Jan. 4

Seeing how the North-South finance is starting to flow, Yao hopes China, India, Brazil and Russia are among countries to announce they are bringing forward plans to price carbon, boosting the incentive to cut emissions and set up better market structures.

They target prices in 2030 below those expected by industrialized nations, where levels are expected around 100 euros a ton, (but not too far below because of the finance).

Here’s one idea from a credible Chinese university:

See this for the apparent alignment:

Tuesday, Jan. 5

Yao sees nations across Africa, South America and Asia announce they will replace plans for coal generation with renewables, especially wind power and solar.

 85% of planned coal projects in Asia cancelled, according to Assad Razzouk, CEO of Sindicatum Renewable Energy

See this:

Wednesday, Jan. 6

Several countries bring forward plans to build gigafactories for battery production. THIS DIDNT HAPPEN.

INSTEAD OF ENHANCED CLIMATE ACTION, Yao the bear is being hit by POTENTIAL oil drilling in the arctic – the complete opposite to what he was hoping for.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Jan. 6 received bids covering 552,802 acres at the first oil and gas lease sale for the Coastal Plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), furthering the Trump Administration’s goal of securing greater American energy independence and national economic prosperity.  BLM Alaska received 13 bids totaling $14.4 million, according to the bureau’s website. See link above in screen shot.

The bids are under consideration.

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) was selected as the successful bidder for nine tracts. It’s a state authority, so Yao hasn’t lost all hope.

By acquiring these tracts, Alaska preserves the right to responsibly develop its natural resources. This will create new, good-paying jobs on the North Slope and generate revenue for the local economies of Alaska’s Arctic and the State’s general fund,” said AIDEA Executive Director, Alan Weitzner.

REMEMBER many states/countries are behaving badly toward the climate at the moment which Yao hopes is just a negotiation stance ahead of trade and climate talks this year.

Many countries/states are urging the world to “bring them back from the brink” by being nice to them in the negotiations, (one person told Yao).

Thursday, Jan. 7

Environmental lobby groups stop resisting the trade in carbon credits just because it’s not perfect.

See this:


Friday Jan. 8

The mainstream media starts to lift the climate debate to include sensible solutions rather than focus on false narratives, such as this, Yao hopes:

Actually, electric vehicles are much better for the climate. See this:

Monday Jan. 11

Huge oil companies delay indefinitely new expansion plans because of a downward recast of the demand outlook for fuels, Yao hopes. See this $22 billion hit:

Tuesday Jan. 12

Norway announces it will limit new oil and natural gas exploration, especially in the Arctic — Yao especially loves this dream.

The NYT reckons a recent Supreme Court decision means Norway will drill for more oil in the Arctic. My Norway sources says that’s not necessarily true.

See this:’s%20Supreme%20Court%20on%20Tuesday,not%20interfere%20in%20climate%20politics.

Wednesday Jan. 13

Yao is impressed that China seems at least a little willing to embrace some of the changes to global markets that are driving climate action, even despite delays in the official UN negotiations. See this:

“What drives the global environment agenda today is the political economy, not UN climate talks. The price of solar energy has decreased 90 percent in a decade, the price of wind 60 percent and electric batteries 85 percent,” according to Erik Solheim, vice-chairman of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development and former UN diplomat.

China published the piece on the website of its environment ministry on Dec. 30:

Wednesday, Jan. 20

President Joe Biden comes through on his vow to bring the U.S. back into the Paris climate deal shortly after being sworn in.

Thursday Jan. 21

Huge global companies begin to finance voluntarily emission reduction projects in developing countries, Yao hopes. The market for voluntary carbon credits takes off. It may have already started. See this:

So it’s even possible that the voluntary carbon market can help incentivise emission-reduction projects in the next 10 months, before the Glasgow talks, said Dirk Forrister, president of the International Emissions Trading Association, an industrial group that also includes banks, insurers and service providers.

The voluntary markets could go through a real growth spurt in a pre-compliance sense,” said Forrister, who previously advised U.S. President Bill Clinton on climate policy.

The assumption is that both companies and countries would learn from the pioneering work in carbon markets made during the past three decades, including the mistakes, he said by phone.

Voluntary action can help developing countries attract capital over the next few months whether they plan domestic carbon markets or want to enter international emissions trading, he said. The Paris rules allow every nation to choose how they want to undertake climate action.

Friday Jan. 22

Governments around Europe and Australia announce they’ll hold auctions of contracts to support the bringing forward of investments in hydrogen and carbon capture and storage.

These “contracts for difference” are issued to companies guaranteeing a set power price or offering support up to a certain level of carbon prices for terms perhaps extending to 15 years — Yao loves them because they protect against competition from fossil fuels and also protect taxpayers, making them more politically expedient.

See this:

Monday Jan. 25

Some of the auctions announced Jan. 2 are held.

Tuesday Jan. 26

Yao dreams several rich countries announce they will make mandatory the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

The U.S. will probably be among countries starting to make mandatory the recommendations, in phases, according to Tim Williamson, who was a senior renewable energy official in the Obama administration.

Also in the U.S., the Securities Exchange Commission will begin cracking down in 2021 on omissions in ESG reporting, including from companies with operations in China, the biggest emitter, Williamson said by phone.

See this:

And this:

Wednesday Jan. 27

Sunday Jan. 31

Day of rest. Whew

And finally…

I asked one blunt-speaking teenager what Yao the polar bear would want of humans on climate action in January 2021. The answer from the person, who I won’t name, was short: “Die or f*ck off!”

The coronavirus pandemic has accomplished a little of both (but neither are credible long-term climate measures — eek).

(Updates with extra ideas from readers; inserts Tsinghua University chart that was erroneously left out of earlier version…again…feedback my way)

Photo by Magda Ehlers on

Carney: Here is How Large Global Companies Like Google and Swiss Re Will Solve an Extra 10% of the Climate Crisis (5)

–Developing countries, where emission cuts come cheaper, will probably get accounting benefit under Paris climate deal: Carney

By Mathew Carr

Dec. 17-18, 2020 — (LONDON): Emerging countries could become a key beneficiary of the voluntary carbon market being promoted by Mark Carney as a key part of the climate solution.

That’s because well-meaning global companies might be about to double down on that market.

A businesses buying emission credits from an Indonesia forest project, for instance, would ideally get to put the emission-reduction into its annual report as it seeks to hit its net-zero target, Carney said Thursday in an online event hosted by the British Museum. He’s the former Bank of England governor and now a United Nations climate envoy.

But the emission cut would probably best remain Indonesia’s, Carney said. That country would benefit from a country accounting point of view, he said, citing the hypothetical example.

The $320 million a year global voluntary carbon market needs to be in the order of $100 billion a year, he said.

Some voluntary carbon credit prices are already rising and the volume of open positions on wider environmental markets in the U.S. and Europe has surged to a record near the end of the year, after President Donald Trump lost the U.S. vote.

See this:
and this:

At the moment, investors in emission-reduction projects that generate voluntary greenhouse gas credits are worried about which country would be able to account for the emission reduction, because the rules are not set. That means capital is being held back from the climate fight.

The concerns stem from the complicated nature of cross-border carbon trades. There are usually at least four parties involved. The investor in the project, the host-country government, the buying company and the buying company’s country government.

By giving his version of the future, Carney is painting a scenario where the buying company’s country need not be involved in the “trade” because it isn’t really a trade. That cuts the parties involved to at least three from at least four.

Think of it like this: The company gets bragging rights but the country gets accounting rights. This is not double counting. In a world of global companies, it makes sense to cut emissions where you can cut the most emissions for a set amount of money — especially where that will help right climate injustice and speed the transition.

“There’s no double counting. If you want to count on geography, it’s Indonesia and national, on a country basis. If you want to count as a company, it shows up in that company’s annual report. If you just want to count for the planet, there’s only one reduction of carbon, which is the amount taken by the forest,” Carney said.

From ICE: Red star indicates current record level of positions that have not closed

Both countries and companies are setting “net zero” emissions targets to attract capital and persuade voters/customers they are serious about tackling the world’s most acute problem (after the coronavirus pandemic).

Under the Paris climate deal struck in 2015, nations voluntarily set their own emission targets, so the voluntary market would help them meet these. Some of these targets are ambitious, some are less so.

Importantly though, buying companies will benefit too because they will get more emission cuts for their euro or dollar — and they will favor deals in developing nations with ambitious targets — otherwise they may face damage to their brands.

This, in turn, provides an inventive to emerging nations wanting to attract capital to adopt ambitious targets.

Rich, pan-regional corporations focused on their costs will be incentivized to find the cheapest ways to cut emissions, especially once they’ve cut much of the pollution from their own operations.

More and more companies are seeking to burnish their brand by appearing green to increasingly important millennial customers who care about climate protection. But they won’t want to be accused of greenwash, Carney said. That would be a deal breaker.

“It can’t be there and then gone tomorrow. It cannot be greenwashing. It has to be real. We need a professional market,” Carney said.

So it’s a true win win win for the three parties.

(Continues under media)

SEE HERE for video of the arctic shrinking c/o British Museum:

Sled – No longer needed? C/O British Museum

Carney’s comments also may ease fraught climate politics, and that’s crucial because the climate as we know it might be falling apart. Carney’s suggestion gives rich companies most to blame for the climate crisis an easy way to help those less able to deal with it, as least for the first part of the climate transition.

Emerging nations have been suspicious of trading. They are concerned richer countries have used carbon markets to shirk their historical responsibility for the crisis — and their future need to rapidly cut their own heat-trapping emissions.

It will probably be cheaper to cut greenhouse gas in developing countries during the first part of the 30-40-year climate transition because those countries are just getting started and have been starved of global capital needed for modernization and energy efficiency. (Investors like strong credit ratings.)

“A lot of these investments will be in developing economies, because that will be the cheapest and most effective way to reduce carbon. And that is hugely beneficial,” Carney said.

Offsetting will allow companies flexibility. While they invest in and build new, cleaner equipment, they will still need to use their old and dirty facilities.

The thinking will be something like this: “While I’m making those investments, I am going to be reducing my carbon footprint, because I’m going to be buying these offsets,” Carney said.

“This is a crucial point. This is a transitional market, it is not the end solution. It’s preserving a critical part, our very limited carbon budget for a period of time, while companies make the very large investments or the economy as a whole makes the very large investments that are needed to go from where we are today to where we need to get to. So it helps bridge that gap and create some time for us to get there and take carbon out of the atmosphere while it’s doing so. It’s definitely not the end solution,” he said.

So the voluntary carbon market can boost the volume of capital available for the world’s poor, improving climate justice, especially if deals are derisked by global development banks or rich-country green banks.

To be sure, Carney is now a UN staffer and Special Envoy on Climate Action and Finance, but he does not set the rules. Indeed, some of the views expressed in his speech he said were personal.

East London graffiti

Negotiations through November will bed down accounting and trading rules of Paris – a so far incomplete and so inadequate global pact.

The voluntary carbon market could probably contribute 5%-10% of the climate solution, he said Thursday.

Companies are being pushed by investors to demonstrate a long-term commitment to address climate change and commit to publishing annual climate-related financial reports in accordance with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Some countries are seeking to make the recommendations mandatory.

This may prompt the companies who are targeted by the rules to buy emission credits.

“A number of large multinationals including Unilever, Microsoft, Mars, Maple Leaf Foods, Google, Nike, HSBC, Swiss Re have committed to making their business operations carbon neutral,” said Lisa DeMarco, senior partner at DeMarco Allan LLP and others, in an article published Wednesday on the Energy Regulation Quarterly website. The firm specialises in climate law.

See this:

“And any number of entities are purchasing carbon offsets in the voluntary carbon market in order to achieve those targets. These developments herald a new age of climate commitment veracity that are certain to require additional climate-related financial disclosures to both shareholders, investors, and ultimately, end-use customers.

Supporting TCFD organizations represent 77 countries and include companies with a combined market capitalization of over $15 trillion, and more than 750 financial firms, responsible for assets of over $155 trillion.

Over 110 regulators and governmental entities from around the world support the TCFD, including the governments of France, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, emerging nations are also disappointed they have not yet received promised technological help for climate action from developed countries, and carbon markets can also help boost collaboration with rich companies, according to sources close to continuing UN negotiations ahead of UN climate talks in Glasgow in November.

Some of the buying companies are high-tech companies indeed (see above) and UN-overseen regulators are digitizing emissions-cutting methodologies created under the Kyoto Protocol, to make them more robust and less prone to fraud or exaggeration.

So it’s even possible that the voluntary carbon market can help incentivise emission-reduction projects in the next 10 months, before the Glasgow talks, said Dirk Forrister, president of the International Emissions Trading Association, an industrial group that also includes banks, insurers and service providers.

“The voluntary markets could go through a real growth spurt in a pre-compliance sense,” said Forrister, who previously advised U.S. President Bill Clinton on climate policy.

The assumption is that both companies and countries would learn from the pioneering work in carbon markets made during the past three decades, including the mistakes, he said by phone.

That is, the new markets would not just repackage “old wine into new bottles,” he said.

Voluntary action can help developing countries attract capital over the next few months whether they plan domestic carbon markets or want to enter international emissions trading, he said. The Paris rules allow every nation to choose how they want to undertake climate action.

“The next big step is for host countries to say what they will include” when they update their contributions or pledges to the Paris agreement during the next few weeks and months, Forrister said. Countries are supposed to rachet up their ambition every five years, including in 2020.

“More clarity from host countries will help,” he said.

(Updates with more from Carney and with context on Thursday evening, DeMarco, adds comments Friday, including from Forrister, updates Sunday with chart and links to market moves.)

Big-Beast Climate Fight, or is it?: China’s Criticism of U.S. to Ease as Trump-Term Ends (3)

By Mathew Carr

ANALYSIS – feedback welcomed (see the bottom).

Nov. 14-19, 2020 — LONDON — China’s anger toward the U.S. on slow climate action is set to abate.

The most populous nation’s recognition of Joe Biden as the probable winner of the U.S. presidential election could well spur much closer cooperation between the world’s two biggest superpowers on climate action and trade.

Their cooperation was key when the world agreed the Paris climate deal in 2015, an agreement that’s so far a weak and unfinished framework, but the only one we have.

Nothing is guaranteed, but there’s at least a decent chance of better climate relations between climate’s two biggest beasts that made up 44% of the world’s energy emissions last year, according to BP Plc data.

“Global threats require global responses,” China President Xi said Nov. 12, reported Xinhua.

China hasn’t given up on working with the U.S. to fight climate change, even after the Trump administration exited Paris, according to China’s former top climate envoy, Bloomberg News reports. Cooperation between the world’s two biggest greenhouse gas emitters is vital to stop global temperatures rising to dangerous levels, according to Xie Zhenhua.

Read more at:

When asked about global cooperation on climate, the U.S. State Department referred this week to comments earlier this month by U.S. Secretary of State under President Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo:

“We will continue to work with our global partners to enhance resilience to the impacts of climate change and prepare for and respond to natural disasters. Just as we have in the past, the United States will continue to research, innovate, and grow our economy while reducing emissions and extending a helping hand to our friends and partners around the globe.”

Call me hopeful, does that mean even Trump is now in favor of at least some global co-operation on climate? (More from the Department of State spokesperson below.)

Critically Insufficient – the U.S. Situation:

On Sunday, China and 14 other countries formed the world’s largest trading bloc, seen as boosting the region’s influence over global trade.

A best-case scenario on climate would see China and U.S. agree on energy-efficiency standards for a range of business and consumer products and potentially some sort of linking between potential carbon-pricing systems and trade rules related to those.

China is introducing a national carbon cap and trade, and such a move is seen as a chance in the U.S., where both sides of the political divide favor free-enterprise solutions over taxes.

Selling the right to pollute (instead of giving it away for free) could generate billions of dollars for China and the U.S. (indeed all countries) as they seek to quell social unrest and help their poor recover from the pandemic.

President Trump has also criticised China, of course, on its world-beating greenhouse-gas-output (yet it has the excuse of a much bigger population). Environmentalists have slammed its continued plans for new coal-fired power stations.

It’s also a plausible scenario that relations between China and the U.S. sour as the world struggles to link global trade and climate rules under the Paris climate deal in November 2021.

China, now the biggest emitter, called out the U.S., the nation most responsible for climate change based on historical emissions, just a few weeks before the U.S. election.

China’s U.K. embassy published documents Oct. 21, after the U.S. criticised it the previous month (see text and links below).

A lot’s been said on what Biden wants to do/will be able to do. What does China want for the U.S.?

Here are 10 key criticisms by China of the U.S. under Trump on climate, ranked by their punchiness (I’m keen for more public debate; I’m not necessarily endorsing these criticisms, nor those in the U.S. State Dept. document linked below):

The U.S. Department of State spokesperson said earlier this week by email:

“This is China’s latest effort to distract from its abysmal emissions record and its irresponsible environmental record around the world.  Over the last 15 years, U.S. emissions have decreased while China’s have continued to increase.  China’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions increased over 80% between 2005-2019, while U.S. energy-related emissions have decreased more than 15%.

“In 2019 alone, China’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions increased over 3%, while the United States’ decreased by 2%. China’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are already twice those of the United States and almost a third of all emissions globally and rising.

“China has been the world’s largest annual greenhouse gas emitter since 2006. China claims status as a “developing country” to avoid shouldering its fair share of responsibility for reducing GHG emissions—even though its per capita CO2 emissions have reached the level of many high-income countries.

“China’s increasing emissions and exports of poor-performing and low-efficiency technologies counteract the progress of many other countries around the world in reducing global emissions. Chinese banks fund 72% of all coal plants being built outside of China through its One Belt, One Road Initiative. China’s COVID-19 stimulus invests three times the funds into fossil fuels than it does into low-carbon energy.”

The Situation in China: Highly Insufficient:


Here are China’s statements on the U.S. from last month (China Embassy in UK, website) —in case you missed them — I’ve added emphasis to ease the read:

Oct. 21
Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

As the most advanced developed country in the world today, the United States has a poor track record in the environmental field. It has not only backpedaled on its domestic environmental protection policies but also seriously undermined the fairness, efficiency and effectiveness of global environmental governance. It is widely viewed as a consensus-breaker and a troublemaker. With regard to what it has done to the environment, the US has yet to justify itself to its own people and to other people in the world.

  1. On Greenhouse Gas Emissions. 
  2. Historically, the US has been the world’s largest emitter with the most greenhouse gas emissions in cumulative terms. Between 1751 and 2010, emissions from US energy and industrial sectors accounted for 27.9% of the global total. Cumulative emissions from the US are about three times that of China. Today, the US is the second largest emitter in the world with about 15% of global carbon emissions. In per capita terms, the US has long been among the biggest carbon emitter, registering 14.6 tons of per capita CO2 emissions from fossil fuel in 2017, 3.3 times the global average and more than twice that of China. The US also has the largest cumulative aviation emissions in the world.

2. On Climate Change.

Major retrogression on climate change. The Trump administration has repeatedly called global warming a hoax, challenging the international consensus on climate change. The Trump administration scrapped the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, kept relaxing environmental restrictions on the development of the fossil fuel industry, and rescinded climate-related policy measures of the executive branch. According to The New York Times, since the Trump administration took office, nearly 70 major environmental policies have been reversed, revoked or otherwise rolled back and more than 30 additional rollbacks are still in progress. This is expected to greatly increase greenhouse gas emissions and the death toll resulted from air pollution. US environmental protection agencies such as the US Natural Resources Defense Council have filed a number of lawsuits against the Trump administration over lowering environmental standards and causing related environmental issues. Due to the negative stance of the US, the leaders’ declarations of the G20 summits failed to reach consensus on climate change for three consecutive years starting from 2017, and each time the “19+1” approach was adopted as a compromise.

Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. On 1 June 2017, the Trump administration announced that the US would withdraw from the Paris Agreement and cease implementing its Nationally Determined Contributions. On 4 November 2019, the US officially launched the withdrawal procedure. Pursuant to the withdrawal clause, the US will formally withdraw from the Agreement on 4 November 2020, making it the only party to withdraw thus far. The US failure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement have seriously undermined global climate governance and cooperation.

Insufficient implementation of climate action commitments. After the ratification of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC) in October 1992, US emissions continued to grow rapidly on an upward trajectory that lasted for 15 years. In 2010, the US pledged to cut its economy-wide carbon emissions by 17% from 2005 levels by 2020. Nevertheless, as of the end of 2018, the US only managed to bring its greenhouse gas emissions 10.2% lower than its 2005 figure … In 2017, the Trump administration reneged on the US commitment by announcing its refusal to meet its climate action goal of 26-28% emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2025. For three consecutive years since 2018, the US has refused to fulfill its obligations of submitting Biennial Reports and National Communication.

Failure to honor funding commitments. In the history of the Global Environment Fund (GEF), the US holds the largest share of contributions arrears, which stand at US$111 million, or 95.7% of the total arrears. Since taking office, the Trump administration has announced a suspension of US funding to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and refused to provide the outstanding US$2 billion committed by the Obama administration. The US has repeatedly blocked projects for developing countries citing unfounded reasons such as human trafficking and human rights violations, thus seriously undermining the developing countries’ right to use the funding. Since 2018, the US has stacked up over €13.547 million in deferred contributions to the UNFCCC.

3. On Biodiversity. The US has not ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity. Nor has it acceded to the three important protocols on biodiversity, namely the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from Their Utilization, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress. It has stayed completely outside the global biodiversity conservation cooperation system.

4. On Protecting Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. On 12 August 2019, the US government formally approved the revision of key provisions in the Endangered Species Act to remove legal obstacles for commercial activities such as mining and oil and gas exploration in wildlife habitats, thus reducing protection of endangered species. The US has the world’s largest captive tiger population, but regulation is lacking in this area. While the US is the primary force pushing behind the scene for the elevation of eight pangolin species from Appendix II to Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), only Temminck’s ground pangolin (manis temminckii) has been listed among endangered species in the US.

5. On Wildlife Trafficking. The US is one of the largest destinations of wild animals trafficking and one of the major consumers of their products. According to the World Wildlife Crime Report released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), North America accounted for 38.5% of the shared data on world wildlife confiscation from 2005 to 2018. The US is the largest trafficking destination country for aquatic turtles, tortoises, lions and their products, and sea cucumbers listed in CITES appendices. The US is also a major shark fishing country and sells a large number of products such as shark oil, seriously damaging shark resources. In recent years, the US has fished and exported a large number of sharks. In 2018 alone, the US exported nearly 3 million kilograms of shark meat and shark fins. While calling on others to join in the global fight against illegal wildlife trade, the US has evaded the question of its importing of live African elephant (loxodonta africana) and MacDonald’s weakfish (totoaba macdonaldi)listed in CITES Appendix I, and its involvement in ivory trade.

6. On Waste Management. As the world’s largest exporter of solid waste and a major consumer of plastic in per capita terms, the US has not ratified theBasel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, impeding the global management and control of plastic waste and frustrating the adoption of relevant amendments aiming to strengthen the regulations. The US has long taken developing countries whose handling capacity are still inadequate as the final dumping site of plastic waste, disregarding the environmental interests and people’s health of these developing countries. According to a report released by the NGO Basel Action Network (BAN), US companies are still illegally exporting hazardous electronic waste to developing countries in 2020. Since July 2017 when China began to include plastic waste and other imported hazardous wastes into its Catalog of Prohibited Imports of Solid Waste, the US has attacked China’s legitimate policy of not importing those wastes, and even asked China to revoke the ban for the single purpose of finding a way out for their own wastes.

7. On Chemical Management. The US has not yet ratified three major international chemical conventions, namely, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and thus has long stayed free from restrictions and controls prescribed in those conventions. The United Nations Environment Program’s Global Mercury Assessment shows that more than 50%-60% of mercury emissions are re-emissions from the past. Among them, emissions before the 19th Century were far greater than those since the 20th Century, mainly caused by gold or silver mining in the Americas.

8. On Combating Desertification. The Global Land Outlook shows that irrigated farmlands in western US and pastures in the central and southern US are facing pressures of degradation. According to a report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), bush encroachment has taken place in the grasslands in western US and is spreading at a faster speed. The outstanding contributions of the US to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification from 1999 to 2019 have reached a total of more than €3.058 million.

9. On Forest Management. From 1989 to 2018, a total of 2,210,546 wildfires broke out in the US, burning 68,059,232 hectares of land, registering a 0.6% annual increase of the number of fires and a 5.7% annual increase of area burned. In the past 30 years, the total number of wildfires in the US is 11.5 times that of China, and the area burned is 10.9 times. By the time of the release of this Fact Sheet, wildfires in California have been burning for nearly two months, spreading over 16,000 square kilometers. As a result, air pollution went off the charts multiple times, and carbon emissions are beyond imagination. Statistics show that just this year, more than 8,200 wildfires have occurred in California, claiming more than 30 lives and destroying over 8,400 buildings.

10. On Illegal Logging. Per capita timber consumption in the US in 2018 was 1.73 cubic meters, which was nearly three times of the world’s average of 0.61, and four times that of China. Illegal logging and deforestation are rampant in the US. Statistics from the US Forest Service show that illegal logging accounts for 10% of timber produced every year in the US, causing huge economic losses to forest owners and state-owned forests, and severe damage to the local environment. At the same time, the US imports a large amount of timber from unknown sources, which has emboldened illegal logging.

11. On Water Pollution. In the US, water resources are poorly managed, water conservancy infrastructure is in disrepair, and floods and droughts are frequent. Water sources are polluted and the supply of clean drinking water is insufficient. The water ecological environment is deteriorating, as evidenced by the annual outbreaks of large-scale cyanobacterial and water blooms and the long-term pollution of underground aquifer.

12. On Methane Leaks. Shale gas mining in the US has created a large quantity of methane gas leakage, which is a huge environmental hazard. According to the assessment report of IPCC, methane is 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. In August 2020, the US Environmental Protection Agency made substantial amendments to its regulations on methane leak management, further loosening requirements on oil and gas mining companies. This has caused strong opposition from many American pro-environment institutions.

Here is another:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs News
Oct. 21, 2020

Humankind has only one earth, and humans and nature are a shared community. It is the common responsibility of all countries to preserve ecological environment and promote sustainable development. Only by building and implementing a fair, equitable, and win-win global environmental governance mechanism can we achieve sustainable development in a comprehensive, complete, efficient and economical way, and attain the future we want. To this end, the international community has worked to formulate a series of multilateral environmental treaties, covering various aspects including climate change, biodiversity conservation, ozone layer protection, and chemical pollution prevention and control. These treaties provide a basic legal framework and guidance for international cooperation. As the most advanced developed country, the US has a poor track record in its engagement and compliance with multilateral environmental treaties, which has greatly damaged the fairness, efficiency, and effectiveness of global environmental governance.

I. Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has been in effect for more than 20 years. Thanks to the joint efforts of all parties, the global response to climate change has made good progress.

In order to strengthen the implementation of the Convention, from the end of 2011 to 2015, countries including the US, through difficult negotiations, finally reached a comprehensive, balanced, strong and binding Paris Agreement in Paris, France in December 2015. This marked a new milestone of global climate governance. The Agreement embodies the greatest international consensus on strengthening the efforts to jointly address climate challenges, enriches and develops the international climate governance system based on the UNFCCC, and points out the direction for post-2020 global cooperation. It is a shining pearl among the major multilateral achievements in recent years. In November 2016, less than one year after the Agreement was adopted, and just half a year after it was opened for signature, the requirements of the clause of entry into force were met, and the Agreement came into effect.

The US is a party to the Convention and played an important part in the conclusion of the Paris Agreement and its entry into force. From 2014 to 2016, China and the US issued three joint statements on climate change. The political consensus embodied in the above statements laid an important foundation for the adoption of the Agreement and its entry into force. The Agreement was approved by President Obama shortly after its adoption. On 3 September, the eve of the 2016 G20 Hangzhou Summit, the presidents of China and the US jointly deposited instruments of ratification to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which injected impetus into the rapid entry into force of the Agreement.

Since taking office, Trump administration has reversed the climate- and environment-friendly policies of the Obama administration. It has run in reverse gear on environmental issues, resulting in a serious regression in the US position on climate change.

Before his inauguration, Trump made repeated skeptical comments on climate science, calling global warming a hoax, frequently creating a political atmosphere of climate change skepticism, and openly challenging the international consensus on climate change.

Trump administration has constantly loosened the environmental constraints related to the development of fossil fuel industries, involving areas such as air pollution, oil and gas exploration and exploitation, protection of animals, plants and the environment, and prevention and control of water pollution.

On 28 March 2017, Trump administration signed the executive order on “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth”, proposing that in order to promote US energy independence and facilitate economic and employment growth, it should comprehensively evaluate, revise and rescind climate change-related measures in place.

According to the statistics released by the New York Times in July 2020, since Trump administration took office, around 70 major environmental policies have been rescinded directly or indirectly, with 30 more reversals in process.

Trump administration regarded the Paris Agreement as a thorn in his flesh, repeatedly blaming it for placing the US businesses at a disadvantage, and clamoring for withdrawal from the Agreement to clear the thorn.

On 1 June 2017, Trump administration announced that the US would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, cease implementing its Nationally Determined Contributions, and cease its funding to the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

On 4 August 2017, the US State Department stated that it had submitted a notice of intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement to the United Nations, and would submit a written notice of withdrawal to the UN Secretary-General as soon as it is eligible to do so, unless appropriate circumstances have emerged that are favorable for the US to re-engage the Agreement. The statement also tried to re-open negotiations on the Agreement, stating that if President Trump can see more favorable terms for the US and American companies, workers, people, and taxpayers, the US is open to re-engage the Agreement.

On 4 November 2019, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US had notified the United Nations and announced that it would officially withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Pompeo also emphasized that the US withdrawal is due to the unfair economic burden imposed on it. Pursuant to the withdrawal clause, the US will formally withdraw from the Agreement on 4 November 2020, and it will become the only party to withdraw thus far.

Trump administration’s reckless withdrawal from the Paris Agreement is a telling manifestation of its pursuit of “America First” policy and unilateralism. It embodies its contemptuous attitude toward international laws and rules, that is, “apply or abandon them in a selective way”. Such withdrawal severely undermines global climate governance and international climate collaboration.

First, it has weakened the ambition and joint efforts of the international community to tackle climate change. The US is the world’s largest emitter in history, and the second largest emitter at present, accounting for about 15% of global carbon emissions. An United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report identified the US as the largest emitter in terms of accumulative carbon emissions. From 1751 to 2010, its emissions from the energy and industrial sectors accounted for up to 27.9% of the global total. In terms of carbon emissions per capita, the US has been among the highest. In 2017, its fossil fuel emissions per capita were 14.6 tons, 3.3 times of the global average.

The US emission reduction performance is an important factor affecting the effectiveness of global climate governance. The US has not ratified the Kyoto Protocol and has now withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, denying its own binding quantified emission reduction obligations. It has completely digressed from the global system and arrangements, and seriously impeded global emission reduction and green and low-carbon development.

Second, it has enlarged the deficit in global climate governance leadership. As a developed country and a major global emitter, the US has always been an important player in global climate governance. It played an important role in promoting the adoption of the Paris Agreement. Its attitude toward enforcement leads the way for many developed countries. The US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and shifting of its responsibilities to other countries set a bad example and severely damaged the multilateral process, exerting unpredictable negative effects on the follow-up implementation of the Agreement and the realization of global temperature targets.

Third, it has brought complexity to the multilateral process of climate response. Although the US repeatedly claimed to withdraw from the deal and initiated the withdrawal procedures, the status of “will withdraw but not yet” and “withdraw in word but not in reality” has lasted for quite a long time. During the above period, the US has been constantly disrupting the negotiations on the follow-up negotiations of the Paris Agreement and exerting negative influence on the consolidation of the rule system.

During the 2018 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Katowice (COP24), the US ignored the green and low-carbon development trend and held a side event on the promotion of fossil fuel technology, which triggered resentment from all parties and fierce resistance from non-governmental organizations. At the three United Nations Climate Change Conferences since 2017, the US held a negative negotiating stance. It has been the winner of the ironic “Fossil of the Day” award based on NGO votes for one-fifth of the times, more than any other country in the world.

The US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement has been opposed unanimously by the international community. Leaders of various countries and international organizations have expressed their regrets and disappointments to Trump administration’s decision. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the UNFCCC, the European Union and Germany, France, Italy, the UK, Mexico, Canada, and Japan, among others, have all expressed their regrets through spokespersons, statements or in other forms.

In response to the U.S. claim that it is willing to re-engage the Agreement under the condition of re-negotiation, all parties emphasized that the Paris Agreement has been widely accepted and negotiations cannot be reopened.

Contrary to the flagrant withdrawal of the US, the international community has reaffirmed its firm will to implement the Agreement and strengthen global climate governance.

The EU said it will strengthen cooperation with other allies to address climate change. Germany, France and Italy issued a joint statement underscoring their readiness to implement the Paris Agreement and climate financing goals as early as possible, and to assist developing countries at full stretch, especially the least developed countries and countries that are most affected by climate change, in realizing mitigation and adaptation related goals. The UK, Mexico, Australia, the Republic of Korea and others have also reiterated their support and commitment to the Agreement. UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed through his spokesperson his belief that countries and businesses around the world will continue to demonstrate outstanding vision and leadership, and are committed to low-carbon and resilient economic growth. At the same time, people in the US have also launched the “We are still in” campaign, and the voices against the US withdrawal continue to rise.

II. Failure to Fulfill International Obligations

Fulfilling treaty obligations in good faith is an important basic principle of international law, and a country’s earnest fulfillment of treaty obligations is essential for observing and implementing the rules of international law. In the international environmental field, the US has fulfilled its treaty obligations and international commitments in a non-good faith manner, trampling on international laws and rules.

i. Insufficient implementation of climate action commitments

1. The US has moved slowly in fulfilling its emission reduction commitments. Under the UNFCCC, the US, as an Annex I country of the Convention, should take measures to limit greenhouse gas emissions and take the lead in fulfilling its emission reduction obligations. However, after the ratification of the Convention in October 1992, the US witnessed a rapid increase in its carbon emissions, and the growth trend had lasted for 15 years. It did not reach its peak emissions until around 2007.

In 2010, the US notified the Secretariat that it pledged to reduce its economy-wide carbon emissions by 17% compared to the 2005 level by 2020. However, according to the latest US greenhouse gas inventory report, as of the end of 2018, the US greenhouse gas emissions were only 10.2% lower than in 2005, barely fulfilling its 60% emission reduction target. In 2015, the Obama administration proposed a new climate action target, promising to reduce emissions by 26%-28% compared to the 2005 level by 2025. Trump administration reneged on the promise by announcing in June 2017 that it would refuse to fulfill the above goals.

2. The US has ignored the reporting obligations of the Convention. According to Article 12 of the Convention and relevant COP decisions, as a developed country, the US should submit Biennial Report every two years and National Communication every four years. The US has refused to submit relevant progress reports for three consecutive years, making it impossible for the international community to have a full picture of the US actions and progress. Since 2018, the US has not submitted its 3rd and 4th Biennial Reports and its 7th National Communication, becoming one of the very few developed countries that failed to fulfill this obligation. The above-mentioned actions of the US once again set a bad example for developed countries who are expected to stringently implement the Convention, thus injecting negative energy into global climate governance.

ii. Failure to fulfill funding commitments

Funding support is key to the implementation of multilateral environmental treaties and to the effective climate actions by developing countries. According to relevant treaty provisions, the principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” and historical responsibilities, the US, as a developed country, has the obligation to provide sufficient and sustained financial support to developing countries. But instead of doing so, Trump administration has kept cutting down environment-related budget and substantially reduced investment in environment-related research and development and international cooperation. Its proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 allocates almost nothing for multilateral environmental cooperation, including on climate change and biodiversity. Internationally, the US has not earnestly fulfilled its obligations, with frequent contributions arrears and slackening of environment-related efforts. It has also arbitrarily rejected developing countries’ appeals for funding, and gone out of its way to weaken funding mechanisms under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.

1. The US has drastically reduced its pledges to Global Environment Facility (GEF). Established in 1991, GEF serves as the main financial mechanism for important international environmental agreements, including the UNFCCC, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and the Minamata Convention on Mercury. In the history of GEF, the largest contributions arrears come from the US, which stand at US$111 million (approximately US$111 million in GEF-2 replenishment), accounting for 95.7% of the total arrears of US$116 million. At the same time, the US has substantially lowered its pledges of contributions. While most developed countries raised their pledges during the GEF-7 replenishment in 2018, Trump administration drastically reduced its pledges to US$270 million, a 50% reduction from the previous round, marking the first major decrease in GEF’s history.

2. The US has failed to fulfill its funding pledge for GCF. Established in 2010, GCF is an important financial mechanism under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. Its funding support is needed for developing countries to deal with climate change. At GCF’s initial fund-raising stage in November 2014, the Obama administration promised to contribute US$3 billion and in effect provided US$1 billion before the end of its term. But after Trump administration took office, he announced the cessation of funding and refused to provide the outstanding US$2 billion. At the first round of GCF replenishment negotiations in 2019, while most developed countries agreed to increase their contributions, Trump administration contributed nothing, creating troubles for meeting the GCF replenishment target.

3. The US has contributions arrears for multilateral environmental treaties. The US has taken a negative attitude toward paying membership contributions to multilateral environmental treaties. According to the 2019 report of the UNCCD secretariat, the US had contributions arrears of more than 3.058 million euros from 1999 to 2019. Since 2018, the US has yet to pay over 13.547 million euros of UNFCCC contributions.

4. The US has hindered the progress of global environmental research. According to a report of the US House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, “Solving the Climate Crisis: the Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America”, Trump administration provided no funding to the IPCC and the UNFCCC in 2017, despite the fact that previous administrations contributed US$10 million each year. In doing so, the US has impeded scientific research on climate change both at home and across the world.

In general, the US has greatly weakened the ability of relevant mechanisms to provide funding to developing countries and hindered global climate and environmental cooperation. Its membership contributions arrears and funding cuts for environment-related R&D have also reduced financial resources for implementing multilateral environmental treaties, obstructed the multilateral process of environmental governance under various conventions, and slowed down the progress of global environmental research.

III. Absence from Multilateral Environmental Treaties in Multiple Fields

i. The US has refused to be bound by treaties by signing but not ratifying them.

Environmental issues are common challenges for humanity. They concern the global commons and carry strong spill-over effects. As countries across the world form a community with a shared future, relevant challenges urgently need to be addressed by the international community under the multilateral framework through strengthened rules and implementation of treaties.

However, out of its selfish interests, the US has been selectively absent from the multilateral environmental field. It has signed treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal,the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, and theStockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, but it has ratified none of them and has long been an outsider of the multilateral framework. The above-mentioned treaties have global implications, with each having more than 160 parties, and the CBD and the Kyoto Protocol even having more than 190 parties. But the US has neither ratified the CBD nor acceded to the three important protocols on biodiversity, i.e. the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from Their Utilization, the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress.

The US is not only an important party to global climate and environmental governance, but also a major country of greenhouse gas emissions, bio-technology, chemical production and waste export. It can and should make great contributions to multilateral governance in relevant fields. However, it has not ratified multiple environmental treaties after signing them. This shows that the US has taken a unilateralist approach of evading restrictions from international environmental treaties and its own international responsibilities, and that it has been ignorant of international environmental protection efforts and non-cooperative toward the multilateral environmental field. Its inaction has created major loopholes in multilateral governance under relevant treaties, including reducing by one third the greenhouse gas emissions covered by the Kyoto Protocol, and posed severe challenges to global environmental integrity and effectiveness of multilateral environmental treaties.

ii. The US has violated purposes of treaties and disrupted their implementation.

According to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a country is obliged to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty after signing it, even though it has not entered into force for this country. However, after signing the Kyoto Protocol, the US has seen a rapid rise of carbon emissions, which is inconsistent with the purpose of the Protocol and its emission limitation or reduction commitment of 7% cuts. But at the same time, the US has been pushing developing countries to lower their emissions, and even claimed that the precondition for its ratification of the Kyoto Protocol is the undertaking of emission reduction obligations by developing countries. This fully reveals the double standards applied by the US, i.e. treating others strictly while being lenient to itself.

Affected by the passive attitude of the US, many developed countries have refused to make new emission reduction commitments under the second commitment period (2013-2020) of the Kyoto Protocol. Some developed countries have even withdrawn from the Protocol without fulfilling their emission reduction obligations under the first commitment period. This has further reduced the global emission coverage of the Protocol and created major difficulties for relevant negotiations and implementation work. As a result, the Doha Amendment which concerns the second commitment period of the Protocol has been long put on hold, and the Protocol now only exists in name due to the US-led withdrawal.

IV. Disruption of the Multilateral Environmental Process

While dodging international responsibilities under multilateral environmental governance, the US has also disrupted international environmental cooperation and acted as a trouble-maker in global environmental governance.

i. The US has broken G20 consensus on climate change. Climate change had been a subject of G20 leaders’ declarations since 2009. Yet due to the deliberate obstruction of the US, no consensus was reached on this topic for the first time in the G20 Hamburg Declaration in 2017. In the end, the Declaration adopted a “19+1” compromise in the climate-related paragraphs, i.e. 19 members reiterating their commitment to the Paris Agreement and global climate governance, while the US announcing its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Because of the continued negative stance of the US, the 2018 and 2019 G20 leaders’ declarations followed the same “19+1” approach, which seriously weakened the G20’s leading role on climate change.

ii. The US has deliberately impeded environmental projects in developing countries. When it comes to environmental funds and project approval, the US has not only sharply reduced contributions in recent years, but also pointed fingers at developing countries’ right to use funds and frequently created troubles for international cooperation. The US has repeatedly challenged the legitimate and reasonable rights of developing countries to use funds, and has also been single-handedly blocking the adoption of projects in developing countries:

Since November 2013, it has blocked climate change, biodiversity and other projects in developing countries with such excuses as human trafficking and human rights violations.

In the past five years, it has expressed unreasonable objections to several China-related projects. Since December 2018, it has rejected all Chinese projects according to a memorandum signed by Trump administration concerning countries that have not complied with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

On similar grounds, it has single-handedly expressed opposition regarding projects in many developing countries, including Cuba, Burundi, Sudan, South Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Mauritania, The Gambia, Comoros, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Laos, Eritrea, and Venezuela.

iii. The US has blocked the global plastic waste management process. As countries have deepened their awareness of the hazardous effects of plastic waste pollution, strengthening control over plastic waste import and export has gradually become an international consensus. China decided to include plastic waste and other wastes from overseas into its Catalog of Prohibited Imports of Solid Waste in July 2017. But the US, as a signatory to the Basel Convention, has made groundless accusations against China for disrupting the global waste recycle business, and asked China to cancel its decision, with the purpose of meeting its own need for waste export. In doing so, the US has gone against the international trend and ignored China’s rights as a party to the Convention.

In May 2019, the Conference of the Parties of the Basel Convention adopted an amendment to strengthen plastic waste management, establishing a global framework for the prevention and control of plastic waste pollution. It was reported that during the meeting, the US, as a non-party to the Convention, kept playing tricks behind the scenes in an attempt to block the adoption of the amendment. Such acts once again revealed the arrogance of the US.

Ecological conservation is vital to the future of humanity, and making the earth our green home is our shared dream. Protecting the ecological environment and addressing climate change require the concerted efforts of all countries. No country can stay out of it and no country can do it alone.

Guided by Xi Jinping thought on ecological conservation, China has treated nature with awe and stepped up efforts to foster an ecological system conducive to green development. China calls for jointly building a clean and beautiful world and a shared future for all life on earth.

As a developing country, China has been taking climate actions to the best of its ability. We have over-delivered on our 2020 climate action target ahead of schedule and made important contributions to global response to climate change. On 22 September 2020, President Xi Jinping announced in his statement at the General Debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly that China will scale up its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions by adopting more vigorous policies and measures, and aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

The US backpedaling on global environmental governance issues goes against the aspirations of the American people and harms the common interests of people around world and future generations. It is hoped that the US will return as soon as possible to the right track of responding to global environmental crises by upholding international law and multilateralism and promoting global synergy and extensive participation. The US is expected to work with other countries to create a future of win-win cooperation, the rule of law, fairness and justice, inclusiveness, mutual learning, and common development, with each country making contribution to the best of its ability.

U.S. State Dept. Fact Sheet Criticizing China Here:,third%20of%20all%20emissions%20globally.&text=In%202019%20alone%2C%20China%27s%20energy,States%27%20decreased%20by%202%20percent.

(Feedback my way – more to come; I will write a story on China’s climate record soon; updated Sunday to include Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, updated Wednesday evening London time with U.S. State Dept. Response, updated Thursday with Bloomberg News report.)

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Zero Emission Plans Come Too Late for the EU

Pandemic’s impact on emissions could present the EU with an opportunity to improve global climate politics

By Mathew Carr

Nov. 5, 2020 — LONDON, EXCLUSIVE: The adoption of emission-reduction targets by Canada, China, Japan and South Korea, including some net-zero limits mid century, has apparently come too late for the European Union to tighten its objective for 2020.

That’s despite the fact that Europe is probably going to meet that target anyway — because coronavirus-pandemic lockdowns are slashing emissions from electricity, transport and industry.

Back in 2012, the EU was trying to get the world interested in protecting the climate. It pushed to extend the Kyoto Protocol climate agreement to 2020 and sought to muster other countries to adopt tight 2020 emission targets.

It was fighting a losing battle, with nations focused on recovering from the global financial crisis. Global emissions surged and remained at record, or near-record, levels until the pandemic hit this year.

To lure more ambition, the EU said at the time it would adopt a plan to cut emissions by 30% versus 1990 levels by 2020, instead of its current target of 20%.

Back in 2012, I was reporting from Doha, Qatar, at the UN meeting where envoys agreed to extend the Kyoto deal by eight years to this year. It was, like many UN climate meetings, punctuated by flare ups between nations about how to share the emissions-cutting effort going forward, and pay for it.

The deal achieved at the 2012 meeting in the desert outside the city and ratified only last month, said this in part:

As part of a global and comprehensive agreement for the period beyond 2012, the European Union reiterates its conditional offer to move to a 30 per cent reduction by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, provided that other developed countries commit themselves to comparable emission reductions and developing countries contribute adequately according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities.

European officials are thinking the condition was never met — other developed nations didn’t commit themselves to comparable reductions.

Quite right. U.S. emissions from energy are approximately flat on 1990 levels, according to BP Plc data.

The recently announced long-time goals by developed and emerging countries in 2030 (eg Canada) and/or in 2050 (Japan and South Korea) or 2060 (China), while very much welcomed, have no relationship to the Doha Amendment, is what EU insiders are saying.  The EU is nonetheless on track to overachieve its Doha Amendment commitment to reduce its emissions by more than 20%.

Indeed, the EU had cut emissions by about 24% by 2019, according to the region’s Environment Agency. They’ve dropped another 15 points so far this year alone because of the pandemic, if power-sector data from Finnish energy group Wartsila is any indication.

So, 30% seems doable.

It’s especially doable because the EU could make up any shortfall by buying Kyoto carbon credits such as Certified Emission Reductions.

There are plenty of these around. Prices for CERs have plunged because of a lack of demand because countries have not taken on ambitious enough targets that would create that demand.

They are about 1% of the price of EU carbon allowances:

Under Kyoto and its Doha extension, the EU was indicating it would probably need a few carbon credits produced in emerging countries such as Brazil, China, India and Russia. But the demand wasn’t that great because the 2020 target was weak. The EU has allowed a limited amount of CERs into its carbon market in the 13 years through this year, which briefly boosted prices 10 years ago.

Now, with the climate crisis getting worse and worse, the EU is wanting emerging countries (and others) to finally agree rules of the Paris climate deal, where starting next year countries can finance emission cuts in other nations as a way of meeting their pledges (known as contributions) in a cost-efficient way.

Since the EU is now considering a 2030 emissions-reduction target of 60% below 1990 levels, it seems to me to make sense to take on 30% by this year. This would show developing nations that the richer countries most of blame for global warming are willing to keep their promises and be as ambitious as possible in their greenhouse-gas cuts.

It would also potentially reward the companies that put real money into emission-reduction projects in developing countries during the past two decades, assuming the EU does indeed need a few extra carbon credits to meet its more-ambitious target.

Such a move would also show the incoming U.S. president, whoever he is, that steep emission cuts are not only doable, but beneficial, because they will probably spur more global cooperation on one of the world’s most urgent and dangerous problems — climate change.

Risk of Gap in UN Carbon Markets Persists After Panel Delays Key Decisions

Oct. 6, 2020 — London: The panel overseeing the main United Nations carbon market delayed key decisions that would have overcome a potential gap in the market’s operation at the end of the year.

The Clean Development Mechanism Executive Board considered the implications of the postponement of UN climate talks to November next year because of the coronavirus pandemic, it said in a report detailing the outcome of meetings that took place during the past two weeks in Bonn and virtually.

The panel would further consider at a meeting scheduled through Dec. 14 whether emission credits generated “on or after” Jan. 1 can be approved in the first 10 months of next year, it said.

The market has suffered weak demand for years and now the one-year delay in the global climate talks in Glasgow to November 2021 is causing further complications for the regulators. The impact of the virus means the market may have to halt at least some of its operations. Investors and project developers face rising uncertainty on what will happen to their projects for those months.

The panel did provide some certainty that pre-2021 emission reductions could still be processed.

Audit firms handling requests from emission-reduction projects in the market will continue as “provisionally designated,” until November next year, when further guidance may be provided by the Glasgow talks, it said. Requirements by regulators of the firms “would remain the same.”

“The submission and processing of requests for issuance related to emission reductions or removals achieved before or on 31 December 2020 will continue in accordance with the current CDM requirements.”

See link to meeting report:

See link to earlier story: