Chance for a green alliance that could still save the world - Climate Change - Environment - The Independent

Chance for a green alliance that could still save the world

A A A

Maybe we are on the brink of one of those rare moments that transform the world for the better. For the Obama administration's moves to forge a climate partnership with China offer much the best chance yet of averting the most serious crisis civilisation has faced.

Hillary Clinton's visit to Beijing next week could prove far more important than President Nixon's "China initiative", which opened up the giant country to the world almost 40 years ago.

There is absolutely no hope of even beginning to get to grips with global warming without the United States and China, which between them account for nearly half of the world's emissions of carbon dioxide. Yet – even as science shows that time to avoid catastrophic climate change is running out – international negotiations on a new treaty have been paralysed by a deadly game of "after you, Claude", where both countries have refused to budge unless the other acts first.

If the partnership comes off, the relationship could be transformed, so that – as David Sandalow, a member of the Obama transition team who has just co-authored a new report, puts it – "instead of each country pointing to the other as a reason to do less, they spur each other on to do more". At the least, it would revolutionise the hitherto fragile prospects of international agreement at a vital meeting in Copenhagen in December, billed as the last chance to avoid disaster.

There are reasons to hope. Both countries are increasingly worried about the effects of global warming, whether droughts in California and northern China, or floods in southern China or New Orleans. More important, both have been doing a surprising amount while officially remaining obdurate.

Despite former President Bush's oil-soaked obstinacy, more than half of US states have acted to cut emissions, and more than 800 towns and cities have promised to meet or beat Kyoto Protocol targets. In a neat mirror image, the Chinese government has been admirably active – sparking a renewable energy boom and promising to cut the amount of carbon dioxide emitted for each unit of GDP by a fifth by 2010 – while finding it hard to get local governments to co-operate. With President Obama promising big emissions cuts, a deal seems possible.

Huge obstacles remain. Each country fears the other will use climate measures to obtain competitive advantage. And each is struggling with financial turmoil. So the best approach will be to emphasise the economic advantages in adopting a green new deal as the way to stimulate future growth.

Clean energy is central to this, and is rapidly expanding in both countries. So the place to start may be to focus on the opportunities to increase prosperity and reduce pollution through jointly developing things such as electric cars, boosting energy efficiency and renewable energy, and finding ways to clean up coal.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week