The world’s largest polluters have agreed that they have a problem and they need to stop it. The USA and China have come to terms with the fact that they are the worst polluters and have both decided to take action using various policy tools and joint cooperation. This is important for many reasons, for one not only does this mean the largest economies will become more efficient and less damaging to the plant. Another reason is that smaller economies (looking at you Australia and Canada) copy American policy, so hopefully the climate change denying government elsewhere will wake up and take action.
Better late than never.
According to the plan, the United States will reduce carbon emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, nearly twice the existing target—without imposing new restrictions on power plants or vehicles.
Tuesday’s announcement is equally remarkable for China’s commitment. For the first time, China has set a date at which it expects its emissions will “peak,” or finally begin to taper downward: around 2030. China is currently the world’s biggest emitter of carbon pollution, largely because of its coal-dependent economy, and reining in emissions while continuing to grow has been the paramount challenge for China’s leaders
It involves a series of initiatives to be undertaken in partnership between the two countries, including:
- Expanding funding for clean energy technology research at the US-China Clean Energy Research Center, a think tank Obama created in 2009 with Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao.
- Launching a large-scale pilot project in China to study carbon capture and sequestration.
- A push to further limit the use of hydroflourocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas found in refrigerants.
- A federal framework for cities in both countries to share experiences and best practices for low-carbon economic growth and adaptation to the impacts of climate change at the municipal level.
- A call to boost trade in “green” goods, including energy efficiency technology and resilient infrastructure, kicked off by a tour of China next spring by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.