Major International Climate Developments

China and the EU took important steps forward this week.

This week has seen some big climate moves on opposite sides of the world. The EU has proposed a major new climate plan. Meanwhile, China is ready to go live with its emissions trading system. The U.S. is at risk of being left behind.

The EU’s proposal is impressive. The goal is to cut  net greenhouse gas emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030. It would essentially ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035. It would also phase out coal and impose a tax on aviation and shipping fuel. Perhaps most boldly, it provides for tariffs on imported goods based on emissions during production, which would apply to imports such as steel, cement, iron, and fertilizers. That would put pressure on other countries, maybe including the US, to cut their own emissions.

Meanwhile, the launch ceremony for China’s emissions trading program will be held on Friday.  The system will involve over 2000 firms, accounting for one-seventh of global carbon emissions. China has been talking about launching this trading system for years, but now it finally seems to be ready to pull the trigger. The delays were apparently due to gaps in emissions data along with political maneuvering. The system is designed to reduce carbon intensity, the amount of emissions per unit of energy.  Basically, inefficient carbon emitters will be put out of business, while total emissions may still grow along with the economy. The goal, however, is to hit peak emissions before 2030 and then start cutting. It’s estimated that the price on carbon will be about $8 per ton. That’s about the same as the price in the regional trading program in the eastern U.S. but well below the current price in the EU.  If China is to meet its long-term emissions goals, the price will need to go up a lot.

It’s hard for the US to complain that China’s program is too lax when our own government has waffled so much on the climate issue. Democrats seem serious about trying to include a clean energy standard in a reconciliation bill. Whether they will succeed in doing so remains to be seen.


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Reader Comments

5 Replies to “Major International Climate Developments”

  1. Prof. Farber, why isn’t there a prominent global warming spokesperson on the daily news to inform, educate and motivate the public to demand specific actions to protect our newest generations from having to suffer increasingly unacceptable worldwide environmental disasters we are already experiencing? So far, there is no intellectual, or political, spokesperson that we see on a frequent basis like Fauci is for the pandemic.

    We have been predicting unacceptable climate changes for over 50 years, so why doesn’t UC have any group dedicated to producing immediate implementation of the imperatives to protect and perpetuate an acceptable environment with necessary resources to protect the future for our newest generations?

    Time has run out because our most necessary resources like water and food are already declining rapidly!

  2. We keep proving that dichotomies are killing us, on the internet, in Washington, throughout America and around the world. Far too many peoples just don’t want to join together to cooperate, even if it will save our planet and the human race. God Help our newest generations.

  3. One of the most destructive Us/Them dichotomies that threatens the future of the human race is between the Us Elite Academics Vs. the Them Impure Public, as documented by Richard Hofstadter and quoted by Nicholas Dirks in CALFORNIA Magazine.

    At the same level are the plethora of Greed and Hate dichotomies produced in Washington DC, almost resulting in the overthrow of American Democracy on Jan. 6, which is not over yet.

  4. Dan, it’s time we all adopted the Mother Jones Mantra:

    “Pray For The Dead and Fight Like Hell For The Living”

    I just hope we have enough time left to be able to survive because it seems like climate change disasters keep getting worse weekly if not faster.

  5. The latest reality check is that the Scripps Keeling curve is still not ramping down after all we have done so far, and the latest climate change disasters are ramping up hellaciously.

    Obviously what we have been doing is not making the right things happen fast enough, so when is UC (and/or other institutions) going to unite all necessary resources to make the right things happen so we can adapt in time!

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

READ more