US and China Announce Surprise Carbon Deal

The White House has published a press release giving details of a deal on future GHG emissions reductions reached between Presidents Obama and Xi Jinping. Under the deal, the US and China are pledging reductions in their GHG emissions that go considerably beyond their existing commitments. On the face of it this looks a very significant development ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP-21) to be held in Paris next year.

In the case of the United States, President Obama is committing to reduction of 26-28% in GHG emissions by 2025 versus 2005, while in the case of China, President Xi Jinping is committing to Chinese GHG emissions peaking by no later than 2030, and then falling in absolute terms beyond that date.

President Xi Jinping is also committing China to sourcing 20% of its energy from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030.

Also, both countries says that technological innovation is essential for reducing the cost of current mitigation technologies, leading to the invention and dissemination of new zero and low-carbon technologies and enhancing the capacity of countries to reduce their emissions. The United States and China are two of the world’s largest investors in clean energy and already have a robust program of energy technology cooperation.

So, the significance of this cooperation should not be underestimated.  China and the US – the world’s top two producers of greenhouse gases – have shown willing to overcome decades of disagreement over climate policy and are now aligned in working to decarbonize the global economy.  While not as ambitious as the recent EU announcement to reduce emissions 40% by 2030, together these announcements help create substantive momentum for a global climate deal to be agreed in Paris next year.