To the Editor:
In his recent commentary, John Shewchuk harshly criticizes the Paris climate agreement. He correctly points out that China is the world’s largest consumer of coal.
A 2020 article in the Washington Examiner, “China coal additions are key source of emissions, and America is doing nothing about it,” offers a variety of strategies for influencing China’s climate policies. One suggestion is for the U.S. to increase its funding of clean energy in the developing world, thus challenging China’s coal-intensive investments in those nations. Another is to create incentives that would lower the cost of carbon capture technology to make it more attractive to China.
Climate change mitigation is an urgent matter. In its 2020 report on managing climate risk, The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission asserts: “A world wracked by frequent and devastating shocks from climate change cannot sustain the fundamental conditions supporting our financial system. Promoting the transition to a net-zero emissions economy and safeguarding financial stability are consistent, mutually reinforcing objectives.”
About half of the CO2 we emit stays in the atmosphere for centuries or more. As a result, global temperature increases are a direct function of cumulative emissions. Notably, the United States is the greatest cumulative emitter, with twice the historical emissions of second place China. And as the world’s most significant emitter, the U.S. bears a special responsibility to take action to address the climate crisis.
Hales Corners, Wisconsin