Today, the U.S. and China have agreed to an historic cap-and-trade deal on carbon emissions. It’s yet another foreign policy victory for President Barack Obama, and U.S. Senator Brian Schatz, D–Hawaii, wasted no time patting him on the back with this statement his office sent out today:
“The momentum is palpable. People, governments, companies, and institutions are beginning to take the kinds of actions that give us a legitimate chance to solve this problem. I’ve never been so hopeful on this issue. We’ve got a long way to go, but this was enormously important.
“This agreement marks a historic step towards protecting our planet from the impacts of climate change. What our two countries are saying with this agreement is that climate change is real, caused by humans, and is solvable.
“For years, naysayers and deniers said that the U.S. shouldn’t move forward to regulate carbon pollution until and unless China took action. As of today, that argument is no longer valid.
“This agreement gives momentum to the ongoing international climate negotiations and will inspire other countries to commit to action prior to the Paris talks.
“While this agreement is an incredibly important foundation and gives people around the world hope, we must not let up. We have to work towards full implementation of the Clean Power Plan, a successful Paris conference, and the eventual passage of carbon fee legislation.”
In case you’re wondering what “cap and trade” actually means, here’s a little primer from yesterday’s New York Times:
Under a cap-and-trade system, a concept created by American economists, governments place a cap on the amount of carbon pollution that may be emitted annually. Companies can then buy and sell permits to pollute. Western economists have long backed the idea as a market-driven way to push industry to cleaner forms of energy, by making polluting energy more expensive.
Here’s the thing, though: just because something was “created by American economists” and is “market-driven,” that doesn’t mean Republicans will support it. They may have championed it many years ago, but these days, they downright hate it. So for Democrats, this is yet another Obama victory; for Republicans, it’s just another monster for them to denounce in the insufferable struggle known as the 2016 election.
Photo of Beijing smog in 2014: Kentaro Iemoto/Wikimedia Commons