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Climate change: US announces new greenhouse gas commitments

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Washington: Citing talks with India, China and Brazil to reduce the use and emissions of greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the White House announced a suite of new private-sector commitments and executive actions related to climate change.

Announcing the new commitments ahead of the Nov 1-5 Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Dubai, the White House said Thursday, “President Obama believes that no challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change.”

“His Administration is committed to taking responsible steps to ensure that we leave our children a planet that is not polluted or damaged,” it said.

The White House Thursday also recognized the robust progress that has been made against the private-sector commitments and executive actions that were announced in Sep 2014 to address HFCs.

The US has been working to negotiate an amendment to the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs globally, it said.

“Our bilateral announcements with China, India, Brazil, and others recognize the need to advance progress on managing HFCs through the Montreal Protocol,” the White House said.

“With strong international action on HFCs, up to 0.5°C of warming could be avoided by the end of the century, substantially furthering our goal to limit global temperature rise,” it said.

The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy made commitments in Sep 2014 to take actions to support a Montreal Protocol amendment to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs and also to take actions and support policies with a goal to reduce the global HFC greenhouse gas contribution by 80 percent by 2050.

In the past year, the Alliance has taken numerous actions in support of these commitments, the White House said. For example, it participated in the India-US HFC Task Force and other bilateral diplomatic efforts, including that with China.

Meanwhile, in an address at the Indiana University’s School of Global and International Studies, in Bloomington, Indiana, Secretary of State John Kerry cited the US-China announcement last November regarding their respective greenhouse gas emissions targets.

“It was a dramatic moment of transformation, where China and the United States joined together, and it took away the excuse from less-developed countries,” Kerry said.

“And the symbolic breakthrough of this coordination was bigger than many of us maybe even anticipated,” he added.

“Since then, every major economy in the world and 150 nations have come forward with their own set of targets or, in the case of India, unveiled a plan to make massive new investments in alternative energy,” Kerry said.

“In just two months, representatives from around the world will gather in Paris to approve what I hope will be by far the most ambitious agreement on global climate ever reached.” he said. “And hopefully, it will send a signal to the marketplace.”

(Arun Kumar, IANS)

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Chinese Police Catches Hold of $1.5 Billion Money in Online Lending Scandal

The internet has helped financial platforms attract money from financial novices with little knowledge of the risks involved.

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Chinese policemen watch as depositors from Ezubao gather outside the State Bureau for Letters and Calls Reception Division office in Beijing, Jan. 1, 2016. China's policy ministry says it investigated 380 online lenders following an avalanche of scandals. VOA

Chinese police have investigated 380 online lenders and frozen $1.5 billion in assets following an avalanche of scandals in the huge but lightly regulated industry, the government announced Monday.

Beijing allowed a private finance industry to flourish in order to supply credit to entrepreneurs and households that aren’t served by the state-run banking system. But that threatens to become a liability for the ruling Communist Party after bankruptcies and fraud cases prompted protests and complaints of official indifference to small investors.

The police ministry said it launched the investigation because person-to-person, or P2P, lending was increasingly risky and rife with complaints about fraud, mismanagement and waste.

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The police ministry said it launched the investigation because person-to-person, or P2P, lending was increasingly risky and rife with complaints about fraud, mismanagement and waste. Pixabay

The ministry gave no details of arrests but said more than 100 executives were being sought by investigators and some had fled abroad. It said authorities seized or froze 10 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) but gave no indication how much might be returned to depositors.

Police say some lenders and investment vehicles were brazenly fraudulent, while others collapsed after inexperienced founders failed to manage risk.

Monday’s statement said P2P lenders were investigated for complaints including wasting money, reporting phony investment plans and using illegal tactics to raise money.

Lending through online platforms grew by triple digits annually until 2017 when regulators tightened controls.

Depositors lent 1.9 trillion yuan ($280 billion) last year, but that was down by 50 percent from 2017, according to the Shenzhen Qiancheng Internet Finance Research Institute.

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The internet has helped financial platforms attract money from financial novices with little knowledge of the risks involved. Pixabay

The outstanding loan balance stood at 1.2 trillion yuan ($177 billion) at the end of 2018, down 25 percent from a year earlier, according to Diyi Wangdai, a web site that reports on the industry.

P2P lenders are part of a privately run Chinese finance industry the national bank regulator estimated in 2015 had grown to $1.5 trillion.

The internet has helped financial platforms attract money from financial novices with little knowledge of the risks involved.

Many lend to factories and retailers or invest in restaurants, car washes and other businesses. But inexperience and poor risk control means a downturn in business conditions can bankrupt them.

Also Read: Sales of Smart Feature Phones Expected To Be About $28 Billion Over Next Three Years

Finance as a whole has come under tougher scrutiny after a 2015 plunge in stock prices led to accusations of insider trading and other offenses.

In one of China’s biggest financial scams, authorities say depositors lost 50 billion yuan ($7.7 billion) in online lender Ezubo before it was seized by regulators in 2015.

The founder and his brother were sentenced to life in prison in 2017. (VOA)