Stumbling Down an Up Escalator
Eleven years ago, China overtook the United States as the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide. Now, China’s emissions are approaching double those of the US, according to a recent report. In the US, greater use of renewables and natural gas along with Obama-era environmental regulations have kept emissions roughly constant. China, too, has taken major steps to promote renewables, but despite that, rapid economic and industrial growth have driven increased coal consumption. Indeed, because of economic and population growth, emissions across Asia have skyrocketed, roughly doubling in India, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. Indeed, India now outranks Russia as the world’s third largest emitter. With emissions per capita still much lower in developing countries, these trends could continue as the gap closes further. Climate change mitigation requires the robust buy-in of the world’s highest emitters, and therefore greater international cooperation, not the hostility so sadly now in evidence on the global stage. A mass movement of concerned citizens pushing for a fundamentally different development paradigm is surging, but will it be enough?