Environmentalists across the world have been urging countries to drastically reduce carbon emissions in an effort to combat climate change. During this process, they have effectively ignored the country that is most responsible for these emissions.
A Feb. 24 article from the Institute of Public Affairs cited research in which the organization compared China’s carbon emissions to those of its neighbor to the south, Australia.
The findings are distressing.
“Every 16 days China emits more carbon than Australia does in an entire year,” the institute reported. “This means the annual effect on global emissions from Australia mandating a net zero emissions target would be cancelled out by China in just over two weeks.”
The IPA added that China has increased carbon emissions by 83.5 percent per capita since 2004, while Australia has decreased emissions by 15.4 percent in the same time frame.
The so-called “net zero emissions” target has been a talking point for proponents of the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change that was adopted by 196 parties in the French capital in 2015 and went into effect the following year.
The agreement is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Many countries have set a specific date when they plan to reach the goal of net-zero emissions. For example, the United Kingdom and Japan are aiming to reach that goal by 2050, while China has a target of 2060, according to BBC News.
The problem is that while China says it wants to reach that goal, the country hasn’t taken many practical steps to get there.
“The analysis also shows that China operates 57 coal-fired power stations for each one currently operating in Australia,” the Institute of Public Affairs said.
“This figure will increase in coming years as China is currently constructing 92 coal-fired power stations, with a further 135 in the pre-construction phase, while Australia has none in the construction or pre-construction phase.”
As China pursues actions that are in contrast with its goal of reducing emissions, the United Nations has chosen to target other countries that are much less responsible for pollution.
The IPA said the Paris Agreement makes Australia “subject to the deepest per capita emissions cuts in the developed world” despite the fact that the nation contributed just 1.1 percent of global carbon emissions in 2019.
Obviously, countries such as Australia reaching net-zero emissions would have little effect on climate change if China continued to emit massive amounts of carbon.
Instead, cutting emissions that deeply would damage Australia’s economy for no justifiable reason.
“Calls for Australia to adopt a net zero emissions target ignore the significant economic, social and humanitarian costs which would inevitably be the result of such a target,” according to Cian Hussey, Research Fellow at the IPA.
The United States also is subject to unreasonable standards in the Paris Agreement. The Heritage Foundation said in 2017 that regulations former President Barack Obama agreed to would lead to a $2.5 trillion loss in gross domestic product by 2035.
While the United States’ total carbon emissions are much higher than Australia’s, they still were just over half the amount of China’s in 2020, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, which reported that China has 28 percent of the world’s emissions, while the United States is second at 15 percent.
On a per-capita basis, the U.S. actually was slightly below Australia.
While forcing drastic reductions on these two countries, the United Nations continues to ignore the real offender.
China has shown no meaningful progress toward reducing carbon emissions. This means that even if other countries make progress, the impact on the environment will be minimal.
The trade-off for a cleaner environment does not have to include millions of jobs and trillions of dollars lost. The Paris Agreement is an ineffective and unreasonable standard for both Australia and the United States.
If the United Nations really is concerned about the environment rather than just optics, it must crack down on the country that is most responsible for carbon emissions.
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