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US and China Agree to Historic Emissions Cuts

President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping

The United States and China, the two biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, have announced an historic new deal to each cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

Leaders President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping together announced the new agreement. The deal is the result of many months of low key discussions between the two powerful nations, culminating in Obama’s visit to China, and the big announcement.

So what exactly have these big emitters agreed to? The United States has pledged to cut emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. As the current US target is only a 17% reduction by 2020, this new target could serve to nearly double the speed of US cuts, from 1.2% per year to as much as 2.8% a year.

China has pledged to source 20% of its energy from non-fossil-fuel-based sources by 2030, and also to reach a peak in its overall emissions by 2030. China must be confident it can achieve this because, as regular readers will know, it has been setting the pace in recent years as far as renewable energy and other sustainable development goes. As Think Progess has pointed out, this new agreement will require China to develop an additional 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of zero-carbon energy by 2030; that’s nearly as much as the United States currently generates in total, from all sources.

Of course, zero-carbon energy does not only mean renewable energy. To meet the goal, China will also be developing nuclear energy, promising to double the current combined 9.8% renewable and nuclear figure by 2030.

This new agreement comes ahead of the next important phase of international climate talks in Paris next year. It follows the very recent agreement by all European Union member countries to cut emissions by a much more ambitious 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. If we count the EU’s emissions as one block, this new agreement by China and Europe means that the world’s top 3 emitters have now put forward new and significantly higher levels of cuts ahead of the 2015 Paris climate meeting.
Image: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Via Think Progess

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