When he meets with President Donald Trump today at Mar-a-Lago, Chinese President Xi Jinping might begin by making clear that climate change is not, as Trump has claimed, a hoax invented in China.
For proof, they could just look out the nearest window.
Few states, after all, more directly confront the growing perils of climate chaos than Florida.
Some 2.7 million homes worth $536 billion are threatened by storm surge that only gets worse with rising seas. King tides already swamp the Sunshine State’s coastal communities — such as Delray Beach. And the warming oceans that are killing Australia’s Great Barrier Reef speak to the dangers posed to coral, marine life and the tourism it supports just off the Florida coast.
Climate change, though, is a global ill. Florida can’t fight it alone. That’s going to take national action, closely coordinated with countries worldwide.
After years of real progress in that direction, Trump wants to retreat with policies that dig us deeper into our reliance on the dirty fossil fuels that are driving this global scourge. He’s moved to weaken standards to cut carbon pollution from our cars and dirty power plants, defund critical research and make it easier for coal companies to pollute mountain forests and waters.
That’s not great — for Florida, our country or the world.
This is an opportunity for U.S.-China cooperation. The United States and China together account for 43 percent of the global carbon footprint. We need to cut that pollution if we’re to leave our children a livable world.
We’re making real progress.
In the United States, we’ve cut carbon emissions 14 percent since 2005, even as our economy has grown 17 percent, in real terms. China burns as much carbon-rich coal as the rest of the world combined, but its use appears to have peaked in 2013. The country’s coal consumption has fallen in each of the past three years.
Behind the improvement is a historic global shift away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner, smarter ways to power our future. This transition involves real work: 3 million good-paying American jobs, nearly 120,000 of them in Florida.
That’s progress the United States and China must build on — for the sake of the future we share.
RHEA SUH, WASHINGTON
Editor’s note: Rhea Suh is president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group.