Climate | Wilson Center


U.S.-China Climate Relations in the Run-Up to Cancun

Because expectations were so high before the Copenhagen Climate talks in December 2009, there was major disappointment when the talks did not produce a comprehensive agreement on controlling global greenhouse gas emissions. Climate experts speaking at a November 5th China Environment Forum meeting stressed that expectations for the December talks in Cancun need to be realistic.

Asia's Growing Crisis of Floods and Droughts

The Greater Himalayas, whose glaciers supply crucial seasonal water flows to some 40 percent of the world's population, are a climate change hot spot. The Tibetan Plateau has experienced a 1 degree Celsius temperature rise in the past decade alone and the 40,000+ glaciers in these mountains are in rapid retreat, posing grave environmental and human health threats. The prospect of catastrophic changes in normal season flows (sometimes too much, and at others times too little) from this Tibetan "water tower" is real.

Taking Stock of Carbon Emissions: Policies, Strategies, and Tools for the U.S. and China

Over the past year, the Chinese government has been aggressively promoting low carbon policies to help ensure China's energy security and lower the country's greenhouse gas emissions. At the Copenhagen climate meeting in December 2009, the Chinese leadership committed the country to ambitious CO2 emissions targets.

U.S.-China Cooperation: The Co-benefits of Reducing Black Carbon

Many people think of climate change and air pollution as two different issues, stated Veerabhardan Ramanathan of the University of California, San Diego, but many pollutants have both warming effects and negative health impacts. Black carbon—a form of fine particulates emitted by diesel engines, agricultural & forest burning, cook stoves, and some industries—contributes to lung and heart disease and has significant impacts on climate by warming the atmosphere, affecting clouds and rainfall, and increasing the rate of snow melt in regions such as the Arctic and Himalayas.

U.S.-China Partnership for Climate Action

The Obama-Hu energy agreements in November 2009 and the Copenhagen climate talks reinvigorated discussions on the need for the United States and China to collaborate on energy and climate issues, but translating that enthusiasm into concrete projects can be elusive.

Seeing Through the Smog: Promoting Sino-U.S. Cooperation on Air Quality, Environmental Health, and Climate Change

China's three decades as the world's fastest growing economy have brought it an unfortunate primacy in two other statistical categories: it is estimated to have the world's highest annual incidence of premature deaths triggered by air pollution and to be the greatest emitter of carbon dioxide. Despite slowing economic growth and some improvements in air quality levels and controls, the expected steep increases in China's consumption of energy over the next few decades have troubling implications for both local air quality and global climate change.

Asia's Next Challenge: Securing the Region's Water Future

The global demand for fresh water is soaring as supply becomes more uncertain. Water-related problems are particularly acute in Asia – the world's most populous continent. As population growth and urbanization rates in Asia continue to rise, stress on the region's water resources will intensify. Climate change is expected to worsen the situation.

Temperatures Rising: Climate Change, Water, and the Himalayas

The Himalayas in the Tibetan Plateau and Karakoram North Pakistan, whose glaciers supply water to some 40 percent of the world's population, are a climate change hotspot. The Tibetan Plateau has experienced a 1 degree Celsius temperature rise in the past decade alone. The 40,000+ glaciers in China's Himalayas are in rapid retreat, posing grave environmental and human health threats and the prospect of catastrophic water shortages.

Cement and Climate Change in China

China is the world's largest producer of cement. Its production has grown about 10 percent per year over the past two decades and is now growing even faster to keep up with massive urbanization. Today China produces roughly half of the total global output of cement, whereas the next three largest producers—India, Japan, and the United States—combined produce less than 20 percent. By nature, cement production is an energy-intensive process.

Efforts in Moving Towards a Low Carbon Future: China's Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Laws

Coal outputs surge in China in the month of February in the wake of a major winter storm that resulted in the loss of power supply to 17 provinces and cities, and a gap between supply and demand of electricity of 40 million kilowatts at peak time. The storms refocused global attention on China's dirty power sector, with the World Bank and OECD reporting 750,000 deaths from pollution induced respiratory diseases and cancer rates rising across the country.