Thanks to the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement, countries have agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to increase and is warming the planet at an alarming rate. Scientists warn that if this warming continues unabated, it could lead to ecological catastrophe for much of the world, including stunning sea-level rise, record droughts and floods, and widespread species loss. Experts, activists and citizens are increasingly concerned that the commitments made by countries under these global agreements are not ambitious or urgent enough. 1992: Rio de Janeiro hosts the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. This results, inter alia, in the Framework Convention on Climate Change (“UNFCCC” or “UNFCCC”). Go to the data at the end of this page on increasing participation in international environmental agreements.  White House, “U.S.-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change,” November 11, 2014, www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/11/us-china-joint-announcement-climate-change. To achieve their respective emissions targets, both China and the United States use a portfolio of policy instruments ranging from command and control mandates and standards to market mechanisms. Both countries are limited by historical experience and traditions, as well as political considerations. It is not surprising that their focus is different because the nature of their emissions is different. The United States passed laws to reduce conventional pollutants in the early 1970s and passed a cap-and-trade program for sulfur dioxide emissions in 1990. China`s experience in developing and implementing air pollution a reduction standards is recent.
The U.S. system relies heavily on state governments that enforce federal environmental standards. Each state has an environmental agency that monitors and enforces standards. Thwarted in its attempt to convince Congress to pass comprehensive climate legislation, the executive branch passed rules requiring all fifty states to develop plans to reduce CO2 emissions from the electricity sector. The graph below compares the Group of Seven (G7) and the BRICS by measures such as GDP, participation in environmental agreements, CO2 emissions and the use of renewable energy. . . .