In the aftermath of President Trump's statement of intent to pull out of the Paris Agreement, China has sought to take up the global leadership role in tackling climate change. President Trump stated in June 2017 that the Paris Agreement would hurt U.S. businesses and make it more difficult to compete with international rivals such as China and India. The United States joins just two other countries, Syria and Nicaragua, in the list of those that have opted out of the accord. President Putin has also been expressing doubts about the causes of climate change, according to a transcript of a meeting between Emmanuel Macron and him, held during the G20 summit. Other world leaders, at the summit held in Hamburg on July 7-8, 2017, stated that the Paris Agreement was "irreversible" and reaffirmed their "strong commitment" to implement the accord, with the 19 signatories to the G20 Leaders' Declaration agreeing to a new Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth.
China has also specifically reiterated its commitment to the pledges within the Paris Agreement, with Premier Li Keqiang stating that combating climate change is a "global consensus" that cannot be ignored. Indeed, China already is attempting to surpass its own targets through ambitious initiatives such as the implementation of the world's largest emissions trading scheme ("ETS") in the second half of this year—the launch of which was covered in our Winter 2016 edition of The Climate Report.
Furthermore, the International Energy Agency ("IEA") has forecast that China, which the IEA claims is now the undisputed global leader of renewable energy expansion, will be the home of more than one-third of global cumulative solar panels and onshore wind capacity by 2021. Researchers from the Climate Action Tracker have since stated that both China and India look set to overachieve their Paris Agreement pledges, with strong evidence to argue that China's CO2 emissions from energy use may have peaked in 2014.
During the China–EU summit held on June 1-2, 2017, the EU's climate commissioner, Miguel Arias Cañete, stated that China and the European Union are "joining forces to forge ahead on the implementation of the Paris Agreement and accelerate the global transition to clean energy." Such objectives can clearly be seen in new rules to curb greenhouse gas emissions in the global shipping industry. More than 200 representatives convened at the International Maritime Organisation in London at the beginning of July 2017 to discuss regulation that would turn the industry, currently responsible for as much as 3 percent of the world's emissions, into a zero-carbon operation by the second half of the century. China, in particular, is piloting a program to include shipping emissions from Shanghai's ports and shipping industry within its ETS—a plan also supported and proposed by the EU for its own ETS.
On June 6-8, 2017, Beijing hosted energy ministers from around the world in the eighth Clean Energy Ministerial, known as CEM8. The convention offered a chance to combine political will and private-sector leadership to drive ambitious clean energy policies and actions. China and Brazil joined the CEM Multilateral Solar and Wind Working Group, with China also announcing that it would join Germany and Denmark as co-lead of the two CEM campaigns initiated by the Working Group: the Corporate Sourcing for Renewables Campaign and the Advanced Power Plant Flexibility Campaign. The Ministerial is just another example of how climate change initiatives are shifting away from the United States and toward a China-led global approach.The author would like to thank Angela Creery for her assistance in the preparation of this article.
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