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Global Leaders Move To Cut Emissions In Wake Of Climate Deal


The climate deal reached in Paris over the weekend involves nearly 200 countries. Now that they've all signed onto a deal to cut carbon emissions, the next big challenge is implementing the agreement. Each country is basically in charge of figuring out its own path for cutting emissions. So to see how this is playing out around the world, we've reached a few of our correspondents in some of the countries that are key to this deal. All three of them are in countries that have officially welcomed the plan. We are now going to dig a little deeper - first to China, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. NPR's Anthony Kuhn is there. And Anthony, China used to be seen as a foot-dragger on this issue. Has that changed?

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: You know, Ari, China really wanted to show leadership at this conference, and it got some praise for doing so. And one of the reasons is that it had very strong political motivation in the form of serious pollution.

When the conference began, China's capital was enveloped in really hazardous pollution. And that was a reminder that it's not so much climate change and flooding decades down the road that has them worried. Nor is it international pressure. It's political pressure coming from their own people to clean up the air. And because of that, they got out in front of this issue, and they set out very tough goals about a year ago with the U.S. They've also pledged to help other developing countries by donating $3.1 billion for that. There are other things that still remain to be done, especially setting a cap for coal consumption, which is where they get most of their energy and most of their pollution.

SHAPIRO: Let's turn from China now to Brazil. That country's climate pledge centered mainly on stopping deforestation. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro is with us. And you were just in the Amazon. Are those goals of stopping deforestation realistic?

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Well, Brazil pledged to have zero illegal deforestation by 2030. And that's one of the main ways, as you mention, it plans to cut its emissions. But deforestation went up last year by 16 percent overall. In the state that I went to visit, as you mentioned, in the Amazon, it went up by 41 percent. So it's going in the wrong direction. Those numbers aren't going the right way.

The fact is you have two really bad things happening in Brazil right now. You have a terrible economic crisis and political chaos. Brazil's president is in the process of actually being impeached, so that means the powerful lobbies like the agricultural lobby, for example, are dealing with a weak government that doesn't have a lot of leverage. It also means that the federal agency that monitors deforestation and levies fines had its only helicopter taken away in budget cuts in the state that I went to visit in the Amazon. So a huge challenge for Brazil to not only do what it promised, let alone do more, as many countries are going to have to do in the coming years.

SHAPIRO: And finally, let's go to Russia where NPR's Corey Flintoff is based. And Corey, Russia is one of the world's biggest oil-producing countries. How is this country responding to the deal?

COREY FLINTOFF, BYLINE: Well, the phrase that Russian negotiators used for this agreement was that it was made in the spirit of climate justice. And that wording is significant because Russia's been very touchy about whether it and the other so-called emerging economies were being fairly treated in these negotiations. Russia still wants to be treated as an emerging economy, and that's because this divide between developed and developing countries is going to be a really important money issue.

Under this deal, $100 billion a year is supposed to go into a fund for developing countries, and Russia counts itself among them. Actually, Russia's done very little to diversify itself away from being a mostly resource extraction economy. You know, oil and gas, especially, are absolutely essential to Russia's budget. In terms of implementing the deal, Moscow's plan is vague as to how it's going to cut emissions. But one thing it does want is to be credited for the amount of carbon that's absorbed by Russian forests. And that is going to be a very controversial issue going forward.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Corey Flintoff in Moscow, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Rio de Janeiro and Anthony Kuhn in Beijing. Thanks to all three of you.

FLINTOFF: Thanks, Ari.

KUHN: Thank you, Ari.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Anthony Kuhn is NPR's correspondent based in Seoul, South Korea, reporting on the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and the great diversity of Asia's countries and cultures. Before moving to Seoul in 2018, he traveled to the region to cover major stories including the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear disaster.
Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.