Tags: MidPoint | NASA scientist | Gavin Schmidt | China | climate

NASA Scientist: US-China Climate Deal a 'Game Changer'

By    |   Friday, 14 Nov 2014 08:01 PM

China will have to start work right away on capping industrial pollutants, contrary to claims being made by critics of Beijing's surprise climate deal with the United States, but verifying that the Chinese follow through will be an issue, a NASA scientist tells Newsmax TV.

Gavin Schmidt, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner on Friday that "it really isn't the case" that the pact announced this week during President Barack Obama's visit to China requires "nothing" of Beijing for 15 years.

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Granted, he said, it doesn't require enough in its current form, with further climate negotiations in Paris pending.

"It isn't what's required to actually reduce emissions on the ground, or make sure that the climate that we leave our children is going to be one which they recognize," said Schmidt.

But China has "to start now" — meaning mobilize and redirect its political, economic, and industrial infrastructure — in order to fulfill an agreement that seemed to materialize out of thin air, to the consternation of some congressional Republicans.

"That's much better than any previous commitment from the Chinese," said Schmidt. "And given that a lot of people have been concerned that the U.S. or Europe shouldn't be doing anything until everybody else is on board — particularly the Chinese — this really is quite a game changer in terms of those international negotiations."

But Schmidt said that the treaty will require a trust-but-verify attitude from the U.S., if it is to succeed in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions linked to rising global temperatures.

"The problem with China is that it isn't a very well-governed country," said Schmidt.

"China has a lot of different players," he explained. "We sometimes look at it as if it's just a central government and they tell everybody what to do. But the regions and the state operating enterprises have a lot of autonomy, and the reporting of what they're polluting, and how much stuff they're doing, is not always very accurate.

"So NASA has been tracking pollution across China from satellites, and it doesn't match up with what the official numbers say," said Schmidt. "So we have to be aware of that."

He argued that the U.S., for its part, won't be unfairly burdened with one-sided requirements under the treaty, and that the U.S. is already making progress toward substantial emissions cuts.

"The changes that we've had so far that have been due to a whole bunch of different things: The move to shale gas, the CAFE standards [for gas mileage in vehicles], regulations on nuclear emissions and coal," he said. "All sorts of random things are putting us on a trajectory to reduce emissions in the US [by] 17 percent by 2020."

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China will have to start work right away on capping industrial pollutants, contrary to claims being made by critics of Beijing's surprise climate deal with the United States, but verifying that the Chinese follow through will be an issue, a NASA scientist tells Newsmax.
NASA scientist, Gavin Schmidt, China, climate
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2014-01-14
Friday, 14 Nov 2014 08:01 PM
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