Monday, June 16, 2014

The US and China Working Together on Climate Change

The US and China have well earned reputations as the global leaders in greenhouse gas emissions so the fact that the two nations are working together to combat climate change is very significant. Together their combined emissions account for around 40 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. However, the leaders of both nations are making prodigious strides in efforts to reduce their footprints.

In addition to its global leadership in utility scale renewable energy projects, China has a stated goal of installing 8 gigawatts of distributed solar generation in 2014. The Chinese government has also set stringent restrictions on diesel emissions with the aim of eliminating trucks that produce significant amounts of things like nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide. Perhaps the most significant action taken by China involves its pledge to cut carbon pollution.

The Chinese pledge came exactly one day after President Obama announced that he was significantly reducing emissions from US power plants. This is but the latest initiative under the President's Climate Action Plan. Under this plan the Obama is addressing air pollution, increasing renewable energy and setting the stage for a global agreement on climate change.

Like the US, China's efforts are not limited to restricting CO2. The nation is passing environmental laws designed to combat air pollution including HFCs. They are also moving away from coal as well as doing more to protect their water resources.

The US-China Climate Change Working Group launched in Beijing last year is working together to develop plans to deal with the UN climate change negotiation that takes place in Paris next year.

As explained by the US Secretary of State, "we have hopes that this unique partnership between China and the United States can help set an example for global leadership and global seriousness," Kerry said. "But this is not just about china and the United States. It’s about every country on Earth doing whatever it can to pursue cleaner and healthier energy sources. And it’s about the all of us literally treating the pain in the foot, so the whole body hurts a little less."

These two nations working together to reduce emissions is a very significant development. This is the first time both the US and China have restricted CO2 emissions. The efforts of the world's two leading economic powers may help to inject new life into efforts to sign a global climate treaty in Paris next year.

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