Canada, the UK, and others are talking about eliminating the use of coal to generate power. Coal burning causes close to half of global CO2 emissions. Only one problem: Our combined share of the total coal burned is tiny.
As of 2010, China was burning 48% of the coal, Asia and Russia combined were 70%. Since then, China’s use of coal has continued to grow until 2015, before declining slightly in 2016, and India’s continues to grow. This means that realistically, any plan to eliminate coal use that doesn’t include both China and India can make at most a 20% difference, even assuming that Japan and the US are on board. As you can see, use in the Americas has been declining over the last ten years.
What are China and India’s commitments in the Paris accord? According to the National Review, “the critical dynamic underlying the 2015 Accord, willfully ignored by its advocates, is that major developing countries offered ‘commitments’ for emissions reduction that only mirrored their economies’ existing trajectories. Thus, for instance, China committed to reaching peak emissions by 2030 — in line with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s prior analysis. India committed to improving its emissions per unit of GDP — at a rate slower than that metric was already improving.”
As usual, Trump’s rhetoric, though ridiculed by the media, is based in fact. Politifact managed to call him a liar on the Paris accord only by pointing out that the agreement was non-binding. But looking at the graphs, you can see that anyone pointing at the US as the problem is simply ignoring the Asian elephant in the room. While the US withdrawal from the agreement is certainly not good news for the war against climate change, its understandable to me that they would not want to contribute billions to a fund to help reduce emissions when the two biggest polluters are going about their business as usual.