Thursday, November 13, 2014

Historic Climate Cooperation Between the US and China

After nine months of negotiations, a historic climate change deal has been signed between the US and China, the world's two largest emitters of greenhouse gases. This deal heralds what looks like the start of a new era of cooperation that will turn the tides in the fight against climate change.

On Wednesday November 11, in Beijing, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced ambitious new greenhouse gas reductions.

"As the world's two largest economies, energy consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases, we have a special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change," Obama said.

Predictably the deal is being opposed by the GOP, however, this is not a treaty and therefore does not require the approval of Republicans in Congress. Although the agreement is non-binding the two countries have indicated their intention to achieve the following:

- The US will reduce emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 (this will require the US to double its carbon reduction efforts).

- The plan offers initiatives and incentives to develop more solar and wind power in both countries.

- China will have its CO2 emissions peak no later than 2030 .

- China will increase their share of non-fossil fuel energy to 20 percent by 2030 (amounting to 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of cleaner power ).

China is already the global leader in renewable energy and this deal will drive what the White House has called a clean energy "revolution," that will also tackle the serious problem of air pollution in the nation.

The ignorant anti-climate Republicans continue to play politics while distorting the facts for partisan gain. Conservatives have already started to whine about the fact that China's emission will peak in 2030. However, this takes into account the fact that the US is responsible for 29.3 percent of global cumulative carbon emissions, while China has been responsible for only 7.6 percent.

The Obama administration will never be able to break through Republican obstructionism, but the President may be able to sell the plan to the American people by focusing on the "billions of dollars" of energy savings for consumers and businesses.

This deal represents an important first step towards far bigger cuts. According to the White House the ultimate target is to "achieve deep economy-wide reductions on the order of 80% by 2050."

This is a deal that will have global repercussions both for developing nations and for fossil fuel reliant countries like Canada and Australia.

"We hope to encourage all major economies to be ambitious -- all countries, developing and developed -- to work across some of the old divides, so we can conclude a strong global climate agreement next year," Obama said.

This deal may put climate change back on the G20 agenda and it brightens the prospects of being able to secure a climate agreement next year in Paris.

Xi said both sides were committed to working toward the goals before the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris next year.

This deal signals a new era of cooperation that is groundbreaking for efforts to combat climate change. Xi told the US President that he hoped they had laid the foundation for a collaborative relationship, saying, “A pool begins with many drops of water.”

For his part Obama told the Chinese president that he wanted to take the relationship “to a new level.”
“When the U.S. and China are able to work together effectively,” he added, “the whole world benefits.”

A senior Obama administration official said the climate change deal "should send a powerful message," and "will usher in a new day, where the U.S. and China can work as partners."

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