China and India Laser Talk
Question: Does it matter what we do if China and India keep burning fossil fuels?
Answer: It matters a lot. China, the U.S., and India together emit half of the world’s greenhouse gases, but the U.S. emits the most per person by far.  Prior objections that China and India had not committed to reducing emissions are no longer valid, since both signed the Paris Agreement and are also taking action to address climate change.
India has made aggressive commitments to renewable energy in their power and transportation sectors.  In both countries, their initial motivation was largely to curtail severe air pollution,  but they also recognize that they are seriously vulnerable to the effects of climate change. [6,7]
This is a big challenge for countries where hundreds of millions don’t yet have electricity at all, which is why their coal sectors still wield much political power.  But as of 2018, China had installed over 400 gigawatts of renewable electricity, more than double that in the U.S.  China has unquestionably become the world’s leading clean energy investor.  Meanwhile, India has made a national commitment to deploy 450 gigawatts of renewable energy across the country by 2030.  That’s equal to more than 800 U.S. coal plants! 
Some in the U.S. still question whether China and India will follow through on those commitments, but that cannot be an excuse for our own inaction. The U.S. must institute policy reforms to restore our leadership in tackling big problems like climate change.
Related: Carbon Pricing Around the World.
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This page was updated on 02/29/20 23:43 CST.