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Klaus Esterluß | Ideas

United States and China team up against climate change

Smoke Stacks, photo credits: CC BY-SA 2.0 - machinecodeblue/

Two of the main contributers to global greenhouse gas emissions are working on a collaboration to finally take on the world’s biggest challenge. “Both sides recognize that, given the latest scientific understanding of accelerating climate change and the urgent need to intensify global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, forceful, nationally appropriate action by the United States and China – including large-scale cooperative action – is more critical than ever”, a statement, both countries released lately, reads.

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Beijing during his tour through the region. The paper could be seen as a step forward, as both states, the world’s two biggest economies, are business rivals. China describes itself as a developing country, which emits far less carbon per capita and therefore should not have to bear the same burden as advanced economies in tackling the problem.

“By agreeing to raise the issue of climate change and energy policy to the ministerial level … we put on an accelerated basis at a higher level our joint efforts with respect to energy and climate”, US Secretary of State Kerry said. “And I think that globally that will be a very significant step and significant message.”

According to Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi , the nation’s top foreign policy official, the two sides would “strengthen practical cooperation” in areas including the economy, energy and environmental protection.

“Such action is crucial”, the statement adds, “both to contain climate change and to set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world.”


April 16, 2013



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Global Ideas Reporter | COP18

Bursting Bubbles of Hot Air

Authors: Kerstin Schnatz and Klaus Esterluss

Despite being in the middle of a desert, Doha’s newly built convention center is well chilled. But the uncountable air conditions at this year’s venue of the United Nations climate summit (COP18) did not cool the minds of climate activists this morning.

A coalition of GreenpeaceCarbon Market Watch and the WWF loudly drew the delegates’ attention towards tons of hot air – hot air that literally is hidden in the current Kyoto protocol. The Kyoto protocol puts a price on carbon emissions. It is the only legally binding trading scheme aimed at reducing CO2 emissions. But the first trading period is ending in just a few days from now, at the end of 2012.

Activists handed out symbolic carbon credits to delegates for two reasons:

1. To call for a second period of the Kyoto protocol
2. To pledge for a dumping of surplus carbon credits in this second phase

One carbon credit allows a state to emit the equivalent of one ton of CO2. The flaw is: In the current, first trading period of the Kyoto protocol, has created a bubble: Too many countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Poland or Japan, have collected a surplus of credits – a surplus they want to rescue over to the next, ongoing years. The equivalent of all credit savings in this “hot air bubble” is 13 billion tonns of CO2.  That is almost three times of what the 27 EU-member states pump into the air each year.  If the states do not drop their surplus credits and thus do not burst the bubble in a second phase of the Kyoto trading scheme, these 13 billion tons of CO2 could be emit for free into the world’s atmosphere.

To remind delegates of reducing their own country’s CO2 emissions, they were invited to dump their symbolic hot air credits in a bin before entering the conference halls.

Call for a second commitment period

According to WWF’s William McGoldrick it’s Europe who has to be a rolemodel in the negotiations at COP18. “At the moment, countries jump out of the protocol, but still hold on their hot air credits,” he frames the problem.

How does emission trading work?Trading with carbon credits is an highly theoretical issue. Our animated film may bring some light into the darkness of the mechanism behind the Kyoto protocol.


December 4, 2012



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sumisom | Ideas

Round Table of Climate Talks in Berlin

The latest round of climate talks has just kicked off in Berlin today, and it’s expected to lay the groundwork for the UN summit in Durban, South Africa at the end of the year. Around 35 countries are attending the meetings in Berlin, and the hope is that world leaders can set the course to some sort of binding climate agreement by the end of the year.

But US and European officials have already admitted that won’t be possible this year. While everyone believes a legally-binding plan is crucial, nobody can agree on what it should look like.

What do you think of international climate talks? Are they making good progress, or should world leaders be doing more?


July 3, 2011



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