Three of the world’s top source of greenhouse gases – the United States, Brazil, and China – all announced new goals on Tuesday that represent a serious commitment to clean energy and the health of our environment. Each of the three nations has announced it will implement efforts to reduce, or at least slow the growth of, greenhouse gas emissions, utilize more renewable energy sources, and protect natural resources like forests. Ramping up climate change initiatives isn’t likely to halt environmental destruction, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Five months from now, global leaders will meet in Paris to continue talks on these topics. This week’s commitments from the major contributors, though, establishes positive groundwork for the future of climate change efforts. President Barack Obama met with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff in a two-day discussion about clean energy. For the U.S. and Brazil, the new goals translate into getting 20 percent of electricity in each country from non-hydropower renewables by 2030, which is on par with previous promises. Hydropower is a renewable energy source but it’s not the cleanest as it comes with significant methane emissions. The U.S. and Brazil both rely heavily on hydropower as a renewable energy source, so the new initiatives will work to make the two nations even cleaner by moving to replace hydropower with greener technologies.
China is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse pollution, and the government has a terrible reputation for failing to do anything about it. When they do commit, though, things happen and Chinese officials have been making an effort in recent years. As of 2014, the country has $89 billion invested in clean energy projects, making China the global leader in clean energy investments. The plan China submitted to the UN this week suggests additional investments to the tune of $3.4 trillion through 2040, a reduction in coal reliance, and the goal to halt growth of carbon emissions by 2030. The carbon emissions peak target is in alignment with China’s earlier commitment to the UN.