How will we chase climate solutions?
By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
Every summer, my son, who we all call Little Brother, and I make a trip to Mokupāpapa Discovery Center. When he was little, he called it the fish museum. He talked to the lifesize plexiglass sea turtle for years, thinking it was real, and he partied with the fish in the big aquarium at their birthday celebrations. In recent years, we watched a haunting documentary film, Chasing Coral, that shows how quickly and dramatically the coral reefs are dying, and we try to do our part, from changing sunscreens to learning more about coral reef seeding projects. Little Brother has also tried to create solutions in his school engineering projects.
And we are inspired when we learn about people like Wei-Tai Kwok who, after watching another documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth, quit a 20-year career in advertising to find a job in solar to be part of the climate solution.
These past two weeks, we have been watching the world gather for the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP27, being held in Egypt. China is the largest current emitter of annual global emissions at 27 percent, and the U.S. is the largest historical emitter and second largest current emitter of annual global emissions at 11 percent. India is third at 6.6 percent, and all 27 nations in the European Union together are fourth at 6.4 percent. So China and the U.S. are key to finding solutions.
“The U.S. being the biggest historical emitter and China being the biggest emitter now, if they come together and say that we are going to be working in harmony, it is going to send a very positive signal. And we need such a signal because we are in a very bleak scenario,” said Harjeet Singh, head of global political strategy at Climate Action Network. “Time is ticking away, and such partnerships are going to encourage others to do more and actually tackle the climate crisis.”
Meanwhile, countries and communities most impacted by the harmful effects of climate change continue to call for solutions for a problem they did not cause but disproportionately impacts them.
President Biden outlined U.S. actions at COP27 last week, and when Biden and President Xi met at the G20 summit in Indonesia this week, they agreed to work together on climate change and other issues.
In other news, Sherry Chen, a Chinese American hydrologist in Ohio who was wrongfully accused of espionage, won a $1.8 million settlement from the U.S. Department of Commerce for her wrongful prosecution and termination after ten years of fighting to clear her name and get her job back.
“America is harmed, not helped, when scientists of Chinese or Asian descent are falsely accused of wrongdoing without adequate evidence or protection,” said Zhengyu Huang, President of Committee of 100. “Even when acquitted, many lose their financial safety and careers – just like what Sherry Chen has experienced. We are extremely pleased for Sherry and her family for the vindication, but there is still much work to be done in support of other scientists of Chinese or Asian descent who are wrongfully accused.”