© John Fowler
The United States is often touted as, “the greatest country in the world” by those who seek to live there, and over time, the country has developed a reputation centering on power, strength and nobility. Much like Tom Joad, the United States is known to be there whenever injustice rears its ugly head.
And as they say in Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Now, some are claiming that the U.S. hasn’t met that responsibility with enough grace and stride to produce appropriate results in the fight against global warming and atmospheric pollution.
It seems that China is pointing the finger this time around, and criticizing the U.S. for what it believes are lagging efforts to aid developing nations in coping with warmer climates.
“I believe the U.S. government can do better,” Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative on climate change stated in Beijing last Monday. “As the largest developed country in the world, the U.S. has done a lot in climate change and needs to be recognized, but at the same time, of course, there is a lot more work to do.”
In particular, China feels that the U.S. is not working hard enough to bring the Paris deal on greenhouse gases into effect. Brought to public attention last December, the agreement has proven to be a controversial topic among current presidential candidates. Donald Trump has heavily questioned the science behind climate change, and has vowed to fight the agreement at all costs. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, has pledged her full allegiance.
Even Secretary of State John Kerry has put his two cents in regarding the Paris deal, stating, “We have to make good on the agreement that we reached last December… The key is to make sure we bring this agreement into force this year.”
The Paris Agreement, or COP21, came to be through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and aims to revamp mitigation and adapt financial strategies surrounding greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the agreement’s stated goals include “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels,” and “increasing the ability to adapt the adverse impacts of climate change…in a manner that does not threaten food production.”
While both China and the U.S. can undoubtedly turn the “Paris dream” into an enforceable reality, the road has been a winding one. In 2010, for example, the United States and its eastern counterpart were unable to see eye to eye on a wide variety of environmental problems. Both countries were at odds for the longest time over deals such as the Kyoto Protocol, which aimed to reduce fossil-fuel pollution, and the proposal faced heavy opposition from Republicans in Washington.
But thanks to the likes of Zhenhua and President Obama, “climate talk” has become a primary focus among UN delegates in recent years. This talk eventually led to the birth of the Paris Agreement, and thus far, more than 190 individual nations have pledged their loyalty. The most recent support is coming from India, which claims it will be joining this year.