US and China Reach Climate Change Agreement

The United States and China have teamed up to tackle the pressing global issue of climate change. President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping announced their ambitious bi-lateral agreement in a joint press conference on Wednesday in Beijing, where both leaders were attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.

Under this historic agreement, the US will reduce its carbon emissions by 26% – 28% below its 2005 levels by 2025. China will cap its growing emissions by 2030, if not earlier, and increase its use of non-fossil fuels by 20% by the same year.

While ambitious, climate scientists say the amount of emission cuts laid out in this bi-lateral agreement alone will not be enough to meet the current global goal of limiting warming to less than 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels. That said, it does clear the path for other nations to take similar actions.

China and the US are the world’s two largest economies and two largest carbon polluters. By acting together, President Obama said, “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.”

The first indications of whether this bi-lateral action will spur long stalled global climate negotiations will come this December at the next round of UN climate talks in Lima, Peru. After that, the big test will be the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, where the objective is a binding global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Any deal reached there will go into effect in 2020.