US green with envy as China takes the spotlight in responding to climate change

More than 160 countries gathered for the UN Climate Conference in Bonn, this week trying to continue negotiations on a global treaty to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in seven years.

While there were many discussions around coordinated climate change policy measures to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre- industrial levels by 2015, the shining star of the proceedings was China.

China may not be the first country that springs to mind as an inspirational leader for positive change – however – it does have a reputation for its business acumen. This new twist for industrial nations trying to remain competitive while meeting the political demands for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

After years of besting the competition in production and efficiency (and taking the lead as environmental bad guy), the Chinese government has now introduced measures to cap carbon emissions and drive renewable energy programs.

The current five-year plan, covering 2011 to 2015, requires the country to reduce the carbon dioxide emitted per unit of GDP by 17 per cent by 2015. Although the government has not set a national cap on carbon emissions, it is allowing companies and institutions to reap the benefits of the trade emissions/ carbon market.

In addition:

  • It has reduced the use of coal to generate electricity by almost half.
  • Introduced plans for seven emissions trading schemes that cover a quarter of a billion people.
  • Increased its wind power generation capacity by almost 50 times. The amount of electricity generated from wind in 2012 was about 36 percent higher than in 2011.
  • Expanded solar power capacity expanded by 75 percent in 2012and plan to triple that to more than 21,000 MW by 2015.
  • Invested US$65.1 billion in clean energy, 20 percent more than in 2011. This was unmatched by any nation and represented 30 percent of the entire G-20 nations’ investment in 2012.

To date, the US has not even been able to establish political consensus on the existence of climate change…

Research by David C. Barker of the University of Pittsburgh and David H. Bearce of the University of Colorado uncovered that belief in the biblical end-times was a motivating factor behind resistance to curbing climate change. (not kidding!)

jesusThe report even cites a mind boggling statistic: in 2006, 76 percent of Republican citizens professed a belief in the “Second Coming” and that any government effort to legislate policy to control greenhouse emissions would encounter stiff resistance.

No wait … it gets better … you need to view this YouTube clip of a statement made by Republican John Shimkus (R-IL). He is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.

Hello!?!?! Come on world – you gotta see what we’re working with here!

Hey USA – the world thinks you’re a bit nuts …

In spite of the lunacy, over the past seven years, carbon emissions have fallen by 13 percent in the United States. That’s been attributed to a scattered array of projects and policies at state and local level. Big businesses have also hooked into the economic and social benefits of being green. The Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (Bicep) group, are taking the lead in developing innovative ways to mitigate climate change.

In my next blog, I’d like to take the subject of US business and climate change into a new direction. Look at China – how can we shape the PR around climate change into something businesses can buy into?

How can we overcome the lunacy and generate better PR for climate change in the US?
Your comments are welcome!


About Monica Boehringer PR

public relations professional with 15+ years experience delivering results on contentious and environmental issues for government and nonprofit organizations, counsel to senior management and community engagement.
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One Response to US green with envy as China takes the spotlight in responding to climate change

  1. Pingback: US companies issue declaration urging government to act on climate change — theguardian | oceanNRG

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