US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, have agreed to a surprise climate deal. Analysts hailed the unexpected news as a diplomatic breakthrough after years of stalled negotiations, and see hope that a global agreement can now be reached at Paris in 2015.
However, the Republican-led US Congress has reacted to news of the deal with anger (and it was Congress which torpedoed US efforts to join the Kyoto Protocol by refusing to ratify it).
Nevertheless, no global deal was going to happen without China and the US, the world’s two biggest polluters (though China is still far behind the US in terms of per capita emissions). Particularly so because the European Union in October agreed to “flexible” climate targets that could potentially be abandoned if a deal failed to emerge in Paris.
Is the EU still a global leader on climate change? We had a comment sent in from Massimo arguing that Europe was playing a leading role, but that it should do more to defend itself against unfair competition from climate polluters:
We are already a global leader in areas of green economy and life quality, but we have to defend our values from unfair competition.
We put Massimo’s comment to Paul Watkinson, Head of the Climate Negotiation Team at the French Ministry of Ecology. Here’s what he said:
We also had a similar question sent in by Kevin, who wanted to know if reducing greenhouse gases in Europe was “worth all the effort” when emerging industrial nations were continuing to pollute.
To get a response, we put this question to Bryony Worthington, the UK Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate. She argued that developing nations are growing increasingly concerned with reducing their emissions, and that it was important to remember that Europe had historically polluted far more than any region since the industrial revolution:
Finally, we also put Kevin’s question to Artur Runge-Metzger, Director of International and Climate Strategy at the European Commission (DG Climate Action). He argued that it was entirely possible to have continued economic growth whilst at the same time reducing carbon emissions:
Is it worth reducing greenhouse emissions in Europe when emerging nations continue to pollute? And how can the EU defend against “carbon leakage” and unfair competition from polluting countries? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions!