donald trump

Credit: Flickr / Michael Vadon

‘The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,’ Donald Trump twitted in 2012, a time when such lunacies were not taken very seriously. But now Trump is actually the Republican Presidential nominee with a fair shot of winning the seat in the Oval Office. Naturally, Trump, who is a long-time critic of China (among other things), got a lot of people in Beijing nervous.

This summer, the United States and China, two of the biggest emitters in the world, signed a pact in which the U.S. pledged to cut net greenhouse gas emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 while China promised to peak emissions by 2030. The deal, which was initiated by the Obama administration, kicked off an avalanche of ratifications of the Paris Agreement — an international pact signed last year in France which draws guidelines on a country by country basis in order to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius past Industrial Age levels.

The Paris text was ratified earlier last month and next week in Marrakech, Morroco, world leaders will convene again for COP22 to outline the specifics or action plans of the agreement.

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Hillary Clinton said that she will continue on the path of the Obama administration as far as Paris is concerned or climate change action, in general. The mercurial Trump, on the other hand, has been very upfront about not supporting such a deal. If he wins the Nov. 8 elections, Trump publically committed he would “cancel” any deals that will see the U.S. limit its greenhouse emissions in any way. Moreover, though he said renewable energy is important, Trump vowed to boost the dying coal industry, as well as the domestic oil&gas sector.

China, which has been ‘bad mouthed’ by both Trump and Clinton, is not indifferent to the results of these elections. Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change affairs, called out Trump to uphold the deal which took so much effort to negotiate. He also warned Trump, who hasn’t commented yet, that canceling climate change deals in a time when all the world bands together to limit emissions is unwise and difficult to pull off in the first place.

“I don’t think ordinary people would agree if you were to reject that trend,” Mr. Xie said. “I’m convinced, if it’s a wise leader—especially a political leader—he ought to know that all his policies should conform to the trends of global development.”

China seems well on track to keep its end of the bargain. The nation’s coal consumption dropped by 3% last year, a decline which has been happening three years in a row. China also has installed copious amounts of wind and solar energy capacity — it is now the leading producer of non-hydro renewable energy in the world.

Perhaps the most anticipated measure in China’s greenhouse limiting strategy is the upcoming national carbon trading scheme slated for 2017. Pilot programs have already traded 120 million carbon allowances which amount to 3.2 billion yuan ($472.29 million), Xie told reporters gathered at the news conference.

“It will take time for the market to be fully operational, but once it’s operational, it’ll be the largest carbon trading market in the world,” China’s climate chief said.