Smart Talks: China and U.S. cooperation are key to solving climate problems and young people can lead the charge

Editor’s note: Caixin Global and Yale Center Beijing jointly launched a Smart Talks on Climate Change program, including an essay contest, to equip the next generation of young leaders between the ages of 16 and 25 to tackle the issue. We are publishing the top three essays from the contest winners as this year’s program wrapped up in November.

In recent years, global climate change has resulted in frequent extreme weather disasters, which have caused suffering to countless innocent people. At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic has turned into a global crisis, which has seriously affected trust and understanding between countries.

Since greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activities have driven global warming and posed a huge threat to Earth’s ecological security, responding to the global climate crisis is about safeguarding the common interests of mankind. . Achieving carbon neutrality is an inevitable choice of human society to protect the Earth’s ecology. Carbon neutral means reducing carbon emissions from human activities and ultimately achieving net zero carbon emissions. This is the development trend of the world and the only way to build a global ecological civilization.

For a long time, China’s energy consumption structure has been dominated by coal. This particular energy structure makes China’s energy problems closely intertwined with environmental issues. China is now responsible for more than 27% of total global emissionsfar surpassing the United States – the second largest emitter – which contributed 11% of the global total.

Although China and the United States account for about 40% of global carbon emissions, these emissions are not a separate problem from the United States, China or Europe. It is a problem that requires joint actions by all countries in the world to be solved. In the process of achieving carbon neutrality, because each country has different stages of development and national conditions, their strategies and technology choices are also different, which raises the question of how to implement the transition equitably. for the international community. China and the United States must cooperate rather than fight alone to ensure that other countries can follow.

Chinese and US leaders have proposed emission reduction targets: President Xi Jinping announced that China’s carbon dioxide emissions will peak by 2030 and strive to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. The Biden administration also announced a new goal for the United States. a 50% to 52% reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030, and achieve economy-wide net-zero emissions no later than 2050. From the science and technology point of view, it is very difficult for the two countries to meet their emission reduction targets because there are still many uncertainties in carbon emission reduction technology, navigation and long distance transportation. Even so, it is inspiring that China and the United States have successively come up with ambitious emission reduction targets and plans, which would encourage other countries and peoples to take climate change issues seriously.

“If carbon is to be reduced, 50% to 60% of the world’s electricity will come from wind and solar power in the future,” said Daniel Schrag, professor of environmental science and engineering at the University of Harvard, in the China-US 2021. Public Diplomacy Summit. Therefore, our future focus is not on domestic emissions, but on funding, support to enable more countries to embark on a clean energy path. We must establish a financing and finance model in which cooperation and competition coexist to jointly address the threat of global climate change. All of these goals can only be achieved under the leadership and cooperation of China and the United States – the world’s largest developing and developed country and major emitters.

It is important that China and the United States pay more attention to the voice of young people, and young people should also be aware of the important role they can play as communicators between their country and the world to promote the mutual understanding and trust. Where there is reflection and communication, there is friction and misunderstanding. The younger generations should take protecting the future of human destiny as the ultimate goal, instead of refusing to cooperate and communicate due to differences in ideology and the possibility of failure.

Cooperation on the response to the climate crisis between China and the United States is a vital step that we must take. Only when we can adopt a tolerant and open attitude to promote communication and collaboration will the two countries have more opportunities to push the destiny of the world on a better path in the future.

Liu Ziying is a student at Brandeis University.

The views and opinions expressed in this opinion section are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the editorial positions of Caixin Media.

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Teresa H. Sadler