Opinion: Heated clashes over global warming – by Len Port

Posted August 23, 2022.

Amid wildfires and droughts in Portugal and across the European continent, there has been no sign of a return to the China-US cooperation agreement in the fight against global warming.

Wildfires and droughts illustrate the ever-present danger of climate change, but the surprising breakdown of the agreement signed by China and the United States last year has raised more concerns about saving our planet.

China and the United States are not only the two largest economies in the world, but the two largest polluters of greenhouse gases in the world. They are jointly responsible for around 40% of global emissions.

The collapse of their cooperation seems rather insignificant as it was apparently caused by US politician Nancy Pelosi’s brief visit to Taiwan, which China claims as a province within its own territory.

Climate scientists say there is little chance of averting a calamitous rise in heat without China and the United States working together.

Growing tensions between the superpowers have made them increasingly suspicious and therefore made it harder for non-political scientists to share climate research information across borders.

The latest clash between China and the US came just as the US Senate, after much wrangling, was set to pass a package of laws including more than $300 billion in climate investments . The unprecedented proposals have now passed Congress and are expected to be signed into law this week.

Elsewhere, however, major governments are hesitant and still not doing enough to limit warming to 1.5°C.

China and the United States agreed to strengthen their cooperation for the remainder of this decade in a joint statement at the UN-hosted COP 26 conference in Glasgow last November. This commitment was made with delegates from nearly 200 countries present. This was seen as a very positive achievement in an otherwise disappointing conference. Much is at stake for COP 27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from 6e at 18e November.

Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency has firmly scheduled an ‘impact’ discussion aimed at mobilizing businesses for climate action. Over 300 senior executives and government officials will take part in the event in London on 3rd and 4e October.

No one cares more about advancing action on this issue than the young people who have the most to fear. The European Court of Human Rights is expected to rule this fall on the allegation by a group of six young Portuguese citizens that the climate protection policies of 32 European countries are inadequate. This legal clash has been building for five years, but has just been referred to the grand chamber of the court where it will be examined by 17 judges.

The Portuguese group has started this legal battle because it claims that the climate crisis interferes with its right to life, its right to respect for its private and family life and its right not to be discriminated against.

The six Portuguese claimants are represented by 10 lawyers from different UK chambers. The 32 defendant countries are France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal.

LPPort of Len is a journalist and author. Born in Ireland, his first written pieces were published while working at the Natural History Museum in London. Since then he has worked as a journalist, mainly in Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Portugal.

As well as reporting hard news for some of the world’s leading news agencies, he has produced countless feature articles on all sorts of topics for a range of publications. Now living in southern Portugal, her books include travel guides and children’s stories. His ebooks – People in a special place and The Fatima Phenomenon – Divine Grace, Illusion or Pious Fraud? are available on Amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. His blog posts can be viewed at algarvenewswatch.blogspot.com

Teresa H. Sadler