The biggest deal made at APEC and the G20


“I bet I can hold my breath longer than you out there,” says the US President. The Chinese President replies, “I was born here, I’ve been training for this my whole life.”

Put a whole bunch of the most powerful people in the same room for a few days in a row, and you’d expect a whole lot of big deals to get done.


No. Wrong. Very, very wrong.

The biggest deal of APEC and the G20 actually didn’t happen at either. Which is curious.

The USA and China signed a deal on climate change. The US pledged to get its carbon emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. China agreed to peak its carbon emissions by 2030.

This agreement didn’t have much to do with either conference, and seemed to be announced just after APEC in Beijing only because both leaders happened to be shaking hands at the time, and had run out of things to talk about. After they’d made a bet to see who could hold their breath longer, once they ventured out into the Beijing air. Or lack of it.

Beijing during APEC. The population of the city was transfixed on the sky the entire time thinking, "There's actually sky. WOW."

Beijing during APEC. The population of the city was transfixed on the sky the entire time thinking, “There’s actually sky. WOW.”

China did cut emissions for the duration of APEC making the air breathable, but in a massive smoke bomb to the face of its population, air quality is now back to normal. Or sub-sub-normal, almost solid, lung-blocking, post-apocalyptical clouds of poisonous doom. Well that was the weather forecast for the rest of the week anyway, I haven’t seen what’s on for the weekend.

Beijing Pollution

The combination of fog and Lord of the Rings dragon Smaug combine every day to cover the city in ‘smog’. Pictured here is a smoker. Notice that in Beijing, you don’t even need cigarettes.

This climate agreement is a big deal. Finally the two biggest polluters have admitted that there’s a problem. Which they now won’t do anything about for over a decade. The US and China are drug addicts who’ve finally taken ownership of their addiction, started attending the meetings and have committed to quitting in ten to fifteen years. It’s the same system that worked wonders for members of the ’27 Club’.

27 Club

All these people will always be cooler than me. As they lived and died in a time when the earth is several degrees cooler than it is right now.

At least China and the US are doing something about Climate Change. In order to meet these targets, both countries will have to start making changes now. Which they’ve already done, meaning that this agreement is less of a ‘right this going to be hard work but we’re committed’ and more of a ‘this was happening anyway so sure I’ll shake your hand and sign that, no problem’.

It’s a fantastic first step, and if the climate continues to crumble anywhere near the rate predicted by science, it’s a first step that will quickly turn into a lot of hurried steps, and finally a run. As we collectively realise it was nowhere near enough, and much more needs to be done. Then it’ll be whoops oh no there’s no point running anywhere we’re all starving and dying.

Oh and there’s Australia standing over to one side going, ‘Gee it’s bloody hot today. What’s that about?’


Science. Red means bad. I am a touch sceptical, however, of a scientist who chooses to focus on ‘2060 to 2069’. This person’s mind might not be completely on this job…

Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian

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