Carbon Dioxide

U.S.—China Deal: Great Leap Forward on Climate Change?


Obama Xi

On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping issued a "joint announcement on climate change" in which each country made pledges about how they intend to handle future emissions of their greenhouse gases. The announcement was hailed by most environmental groups and much of the media as "historic," a "breakthrough, and a "game-changer." Careful parsing of the text's diplomatic jargon suggests that the joint announcement is, in fact, none of those. …

Looking at the previously announced energy and climate policies of both the U.S. and China, the new pledges appear to add little to their existing plans to reduce their emissions. The new Obama pledges basically track the reductions that would result from the administration's plan to boost automobile fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025 and the Environmental Protection Agency's new scheme to cut by 2030 the carbon dioxide emissions from electric power plants by 30% below their 2005 level. Xi was no doubt aware that a week earlier an analysis of demographic, urbanization, and industrial trends by Chinese Academy of Social Science had predicted that China's emissions peak would occur between 2025 and 2040.

Supporters hope that the joint announcement is the prelude to a "great leap forward" to a broad and binding global climate change agreement at Paris in 2015. Perhaps, but the U.S. and China left themselves plenty of room to step back if their pledges become inconvenient.

That's from my new Time column on the U.S.-China emissions "deal." Go here for the whole article.

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  1. Is he really wearing the same outfit in that picture?

  2. I must say, if nothing else, Obama is stunningly consistent: he manages to be wrong on almost every controversy put before him – especially the ones requiring reasoning and numeracy.

    In 100 years, the man will be viewed as a laughing stock.

    1. Jimmy Carter without the Camp David Accords.

      1. Instead of gas rationing we will have heat rationing this winter.

      2. What makes Obama’s fuckupitude especially delicious is that he is reduced to pointless gestures like this.

        He can’t get what he wants to pass the legislature, so he has to nibble around in the areas where nobody can check his power… except thanks to term limits, in two years he will be gone, and the next guy will have a free hand to change all those areas to suit the next guy’s tastes.

        At least Bill Clinton had the brains to try to accommodate his opposition and to leverage his limited power to get some accommodations from them in exchange.

        Obama is so lacking in intelligence and self-control that he can’t even pretend to try that. When Obama came to DC, the Illinois state senate definitely lost a major idiot.

      3. Jimmy without legalizing home brew

        1. now your gettin nasty.

      4. *Jimmy Carter mixed with elements of Nixon.

    2. I think it really depends on who writes the history books.

    3. I’d be oddly fine if he was just wrong, but it’s that he is so fucking contemptuous to anyone who questions him. He shows no respect at all for anyone with opposing views. I pray that history eviscerates this asshole.

  3. The proglodytes will be on this like ugly on an ape. “Aha! No reason for us to hold back from outlawing fossil fuels now! China is on board!”

    1. China has always been open to the US outlawing fossil fuels.

      So long as it doesn’t hit their global export economy too hard.

  4. Home of the $15 minimum wage:

    It may feel like boom times in Seattle, but at least one group is being left out: the city’s black residents.

    While Seattle’s median household income soared to an all-time high of $70,200 last year, wages for blacks nose-dived to $25,700 ? a 13.5 percent drop from 2012. Among the 50 largest U.S. cities, Seattle now has the ninth lowest income for black households.

    1. Wait, we have black people in Seattle? Where?

      1. we have black people in Seattle?

        Sir Mix-a-Lot and one other person, according to the last census.

      2. The city council has been pushing them out for years.

        Job well done, progressives!

      3. I’m half black, but I live in Snohomish County so I guess I still don’t count.

    2. Unpossible.

    3. Imposserus!

      But, but, but… the minimum wage increase was supposed to help everyone!

    4. I saw the exact same article written about NYC. It’s almost like Democratic policies aren’t helping, or something.

  5. How in the hell are we going to get 55 mpg on our cars in 20 years??

    I had a 1986 Accord (that’s 28 year-old technology, for those keeping track) that got 37 mpg on the highway. That kind of mileage would be considered outstanding today. What happened? I’ve been told that it’s because cars weigh so much now. Government regulated airbags, tire pressure monitors (!), etc. all add weight.

    1. That’s insanity. Most cars are made of lighter-weight materials now than they were back then, so if other factors had remained constant (regulations, fuel additives, etc.), we would presumably be getting better mileage.

      I blame the corn.

      I always blame the corn.

      1. It does take 5 times as much ethanol to produce the equivalent energy that gasoline produces, so that’s part of it.

      2. I would think it’s because on average people are driving much bigger & heavier vehicles than in the 80s.

    2. Failure is not an option!

    3. Well, one possible thing is horsepower. People like cars with some power, and let me tell you, cars in the 70s and 80s after the gas crises and gas lines had extremely low horsepower because the tech was more primitive and horsepower came from displacement and therefore more gas. A small Toyota or a shitty Chrysler K-Car back then might not even have 100hp.

      Engine technology got better, but people wanted their hp back. So now that small Toyota might have 200+hp but still get the same gas mileage, instead of having 100hp but getting way better gas mileage.

      1. The 1977 Trans Am of Smokey and the Bandit fame had a 402 cubic inch motor that put out around 200 horse power. In contrast, in the early 1970s cars were routinely putting out one horsepower per cubic inch of motor. Detroit couldn’t meet the emissions requirements. So their solution was to detune the engines so that they were less powerful and burned less gas thus producing fewer emissions.

        This is why all but the most expensive cars or very basic under powered Japanese compact cars were nearly uniformly horrible from about 1973 until the late 1990s. It took them until the late 1990s to figure out how to make a reliable, affordable car that was powerful and also met the emissions standards.

        1. My first car was a 69 Camaro with 350 cubic inch engine with a four barrel carb and three on the floor — the engine put out 275 HP. It weighed about 1600 lbs. It got 9 mpg in town and maybe 14 on the highway if I drove 55.

          My 350Z has a 3 liter engine that puts out 300 HP. It weighs nearly twice as much as the Camaro. With a 6 speed manual transmission, it out performs the Camaro in every important measure. It gets 25 mpg in mixed City/Hwy driving and nearly 30 mpg at 80 miles per hour on the highway.

          The 70’s and early 80’s were the dark ages of American autos.

          1. You have to include the 90’s, too. American cars were shit until a handful of years ago, and some are still shit.

            1. American cars yes, Japanese cars were great. I had a 98 Nissan 200SX. 2L 4-cyl with a 5-spd manual transmission. Plenty of power to get onto the freeway. 30+ mpg mixed driving. 45 mpg on road trips driving 80 mph.

              1. Ah, I have fond memories of the 200SX. I fingered my first girl in the back seat of one.

              2. I had a 1998 Mercury Cougar that was a great car. It had a horizontally opposed V6. Owned that car in Germany and it happily cruised along at 110 on the autobahn and had 120,000 miles on it when I traded it off and a brake job and a broken tie rod end was the only problems I ever had with it. Drove the hell out of it.

                1. I have driven Fords on business trips in Europe. They were outstanding cars. At the same time, I was driving Ford rentals in the US that sucked (90s & early 00s).

                  So it was never about the big 3 not knowing how to make a good care.

          2. They really were. And the early 00s have been in terms of performance a golden age. You can buy a nondescript family sedan today that would leave most of the glamorous muscle cars of the past for dead on any track. The amount of power and handling you get in a modern car is just amazing.

            The only place where modern cars have fallen is styling. The safety regulations have become so onerous that all cars have to look nearly alike and real innovative styling is practically impossible.

            Jay Leno says that his two favorite years of car are 1932 and 1966. 1932 was the last year before the depression really started killing off the auto industry and the year they were most desperate. So they did everything they could to make the most beautiful and compelling cars possible.

            1966 was the last year there were no safety regulations of any kind and designers were free to design anything they wanted to without regard to safety.

            Jay makes a very good point.

            1. You make a low-drag auto that meets all the safety standards for not killing passengers or pedestrians, and you get a very small envelope of possible shapes. That pushes styling into the details. So manufacturers do it well; others suck.

              1. But even the ones that do it well, tend to make cars that look a lot alike. And that is a shame.

                1. I own a forrester, and I can hardly tell the difference between a forrester and a ford escape when I see them on the road.



          3. “It weighed about 1600 lbs.”

            “Shipping Weight 3,135 lbs” (that’s empty and dry)

            It takes a pretty bare-bones car to get to 1,600#
            “1957 Porsche 356 A Speedster 732 kg (1605,73 pounds)

            1. I has moth ballz for brainz.

              I have no idea why me memory is so bad on that one.

        2. It took them Ford until the late 1990s 2009 to figure out how to make a reliable, affordable car that was powerful and also met the emissions standards.

          GM and Chrysler are still trying to figure it out.

    4. We won’t. Those regulations will never have effect or if they do they will quickly be repealed as people wake up to the fact that the only new cars available is the new 2034 30 horsepower electric Ford Pelosi SL.

      Twenty years is a long time. And this madness like all madness will too pass.

  6. Do ANY of the countries that sign these deals ever live up to what they put on paper? I mean, ever? Even when they actually try, they still fail miserably at cutting emissions. It’s enough to make a person think they have other motives…

    1. Actually, the US has met the cuts we agreed to under the Kyoto Treaty entirely by accident:

      A 20-Year Low in U.S. Carbon Emissions

      Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the United States from January through March were the lowest of any recorded for the first quarter of the year since 1992, the federal Energy Information Administration reports.

      The agency attributed the decline to a combination of three factors: a mild winter, reduced demand for gasoline and, most significant, a drop in coal-fired electricity generation because of historically low natural gas prices. Whether emissions will continue to drop or begin to rise again, however, remains to be seen, experts said Friday.

      1. a drop in coal-fired electricity generation because of historically low natural gas prices.

        But that’s capitalism. That’s yucky.

        What we need to do is return to the land to fight with bears for our food, like Gaia intended.

  7. The American people support Keystone and fracking, the Europeans are increasingly getting crushed by environmental costs, the Australians got rid of their carbon tax…

    With all those democracies turning their backs, it’s no surprise that Obama had to turn to a vicious dictatorship for support on climate change. Obama must look on Chinese government’s ability to inflict it’s will on its people with envy.

    They don’t have to worry about the results of any stupid midterms. Why should he? So shove it up your ass, America. And tell the Senate to shove it, too!

    1. He is going to tell America to shove it up their ass. And it will be the Democratic Party that will still be around to take the blame for it not Obama.

      If you are a real committed Democrat, I don’t see how you can look at Obama with anything but fear and loathing. He is destroying their party and could not care less that he is doing so.

      1. Only, China is just humoring Obama and the West. Sure Xi is ruthless and corrupt, but he’s not dumb enough to tank China’s economy by agreeing to any ridiculous green energy initiatives.

        1. He’s just agreeing to maintain the pace that China is on anyway. It’s a completely symbolic gesture.


          Forecasts from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, BP ‘s Statistical Review of World Energy and the academic journal Energy Policy all expect Chinese energy consumption to crest in two decades due to demographic and urbanization trends. Mr. Obama has in essence persuaded the Chinese to do what they planned to do anyway.

          Mr. Xi also agreed to shift at least 20% of Chinese energy production to non-fossil-fuels by 2030. But this too is what China has already intended, albeit largely by replacing dirty coal with nuclear power. China’s Communist Party has relied on coal to fuel rapid economic growth but that is increasingly becoming a political liability as the air becomes unbreathable.

      2. The thing is that a lot of Democrats really don’t know anything about their party*. And they don’t really have a loyalty to the party so much as they are signaling that they are good guys and not evil to their friends.

        I suspect that having no reason to question the transcendent earth-healing constitutional scholar narrative that they are swimming in, they believe that Obama is one of the good guys and that if they support him and the things he says are important, they too are being good guys and can signal to their friends that they are good and not evil.

        And the party loyalists, being dependent on the support of the people they have been deluding, find themselves riding the tiger. If they cast out Obama, they fear they will lose the support of these clueless supporters, who will find a new flag to hoist as a means of signalling their goodness and non-evilness. And once these clueless supporters gather under a new standard, it will be hard to shift them because they will return to not paying close attention to what’s going on.

        So the loyalists have to maintain their support for Obama, and ride the tiger where it is taking them. And his petulant narcissism will gladly carry them to hell if it makes him feel good about himself since narcissists don’t give a shit about other people.

        * This phenomenon is by no means unique to the Democratic Party

  8. That’s from my new Time column on the U.S.-China emissions “deal.”

    Iesus Christ, Ron. Who reads Time anymore? Besides poor souls waiting to have their blood taken at the diagnostic center or have their teeth cleaned at the dentist, that is.

    1. People need to hear the libertarian gospel wherever they are.

      More libertarian voices + more places = better.

    2. Even those people don’t read time anymore Old Mexican. They all have smart phones and don’t have to read the magazines in the waiting room anymore.

      1. Well, I read Reason in my smartphone…

        [tongue squarely against cheek]

    3. I have the Nook app on my phone, so I don’t have to read shitty magazines anywhere anymore.

  9. U.S. – China Deal: Great Leap Forward on Climate Change?

    Well, if you mean will it impoverish millions, cause death and destruction, and completely fail to achieve its stated objectives – then yes.

    1. seriously though, using ‘Great Leap Forward’ is functionally identical to ‘Final Solution’ as a comparison.

      I mean, if the US and gernamy came to some sort of accord you wouldn’t ask if it was ‘The Final Solution on Climate Change’ would you?

      WTF is wrong with these people?

  10. The new Obama pledges basically track the reductions that would result from the administration’s plan to boost automobile fuel economy standards to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025

    There are plenty of vehicle designs that achieve such standards without any exotic new technologies, but guess why they’re not available here?

    Yep – Safety Regulations.

    It does not matter the good intentions behind these mile-per-gallon standards when you have government agencies working against each other like so many fiefdoms. Forget it – the 55MPG car will NOT happen. Not until the government stops regulating the auto industry

    1. What’s funny is it probably will happen, but despite government efforts.

      If the government loves anything, it’s setting a regulatory goal that the private sector is going to meet on its ow and then claiming credit.

      30 years from now when Global Warming has amounted to nothing, these asshole progressives are going to be claiming they saved the Earth and their policies forced the evil capitalists to be more efficient.

      And the media will be going along with it then just as they are now.

  11. These goals are actually easily achievable. Unleash the market on it and get the government out of the way. That’s my 5 year plan.

  12. I keep asking, does the word “science” mean anything to Reason other than global warming related press releases?

    1. Let’s see what the Millenials think!

    2. Hey, he does post on GMO’s and Smart Cars too.

    3. What the fuck are you talking about?

  13. Up to the mountains and down to the countryside!

    Onward rusticated youth, carry forward the struggle to criticize Lin Piao and Confucius!

    Down with the four olds! Uphold the two whatevers, the four great rights, and the eight model operas! Let a thousand barefoot doctors bloom in every village!

    Take tiger mountain by strategy! Long live the peoples communes!

    There. Global warming solved.

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