China-U.S. “Climate” Accord

A big deal is being made over the United States’ and China’s “landmark agreement” to curb carbon emissions. The climate aspects of the agreement are important for the global community — particularly in light of United Nations General Assembly President Sam Kahamba Kutesa’s announcement that he would convene a high-level event on combating climate change in June. While this joint agreement is seen as an important step for climate change enthusiasts, this new accord between China and the U.S. has much more far-reaching energy, trade and security implications.

Energy. As part of its attempts to cut emissions, China plans on expanding its “clean” energy sources, such as solar power and windmills, to produce 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030. President Obama, in return, intends to reduce carbon emissions by up to 28 percent by 2025. Considering China and the United States are the top two carbon polluters, any “meaningful worldwide pact” on the issue would founder without their support, according to The New York Times.

Trade. Cuts to tariffs were a big discussion during the “unexpectedly productive” meeting. Obama agreed to cut tariffs for technology products, including video-game consoles, computer software and medical equipment. Overall, Obama and the Chinese agreed to eliminate more than 200 categories of tariffs, which the Obama administration estimates could create up to 60,000 jobs and generate $1 trillion is sales per year. However, the promotion of two competing free-trade blocs for the Asian region — the U.S.-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Chinese-led Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific, which was recently approved for study — underscores the continued competition between China and the United States.

Security. Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping made headway in two important security topics during the negotiations. First, Obama and Xi agreed to a military accord to avert clashes between American and Chinese forces in the waters off of the Chinese coast. Additionally, Obama and Xi agreed to resume the U.S.-China working group on cybersecurity issues, which broke down after the U.S. brought hacking charges against several Chinese military officials.

Many of these issues won’t be easy to tackle for the Obama administration. However, Obama still hopes to take the U.S.-China relationship to a “new level.”

To a point, the announcement of the U.S.-China accord is exciting. Yet rather than focusing solely on the often-controversial capping of carbon emissions, perhaps we should focus on the other, arguably bigger announcements to come out of the accord — like reduced tariffs, possibly job creation, and shoring up national security efforts.

Comments (4)

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  1. Fred says:

    The tariffs are the exciting part. $1 trillion in sales is no joke. The greenhouse gas emissions, however, will probably remain high. The U.S. doesn’t have the political will to curb them, and China doesn’t want to hamper its economic powerhouse.

  2. Tom says:

    International “free (and fair) trade agreements are always fine and dandy. The problem is that they do nothing to the “death by thousand cuts” that our idiotic tax regime is dealing to our once-productive economy. For as long as we continue to tax the bejesus out of the goods and services that we produce in the US while providing what is by agreement virtually a tax-free access to our markets to foreign producers our economy will continue to bleed and lose jobs either to the foreign competitors or by our producers exporting jobs instead of exporting products that those who hold the jobs domestically once produced. US consumers having access to foregn goods is a great idea but purchasing power that is being magically imagined into existance from a magic hole in the air is delusional.

  3. Santiago says:

    I do not expect the US to meet these goals, they do not have enough shared support at home. The next administration could easily try rescind climate goals in this accord, or the administration after… Ten years is plenty of time for domestic political strife to rip ideas in the agreement apart.

    Tariff reduction is a double-edged sword, prices could fall across many fronts, but it could also completely decimate many American businesses in the price war that assuredly would ensue.

  4. Reeves Favrot says:

    A lot easier said than done is a good way to summarize these agreements. The underlining theme here to why these agreements won’t be fulfilled is at the end of the day nations pursue their own self interest. China can say clean energy sources will “produce 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030″ but when the economy hits hard times and teeters on recession, you better believe the Chinese government is going to do whatever it can to maximize the bottom line. Foregoing cheaper energy sources and spending millions on clean energy is something that will be quickly forgotten.

    As for security: The agreement to avert clashes is nice but inevitably going to fail. China is a rising world power and what to rising world powers do? Expand. Look for increased involvement of Chinese intervention in Southeast Asia in the coming future while Japan tries to check growing China from the North.

    Cyber security agreements are something I find hard to believe China will ever truly adhere to. Because of the U.S.’s distinct military advantage, China looks at cyber hacking as a way to level the playing field.
    At the end of the day, it only matter what both countries DO, not what they say they will do

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