US and China strike deal on carbon cuts in push for global climate change pact
Barack Obama aims for reduction of a quarter or more by 2025, while Xi Jinping sets goal for emissions to fall after 2030.
The United States and China have unveiled a secretly negotiated deal to reduce their greenhouse gas output, with China agreeing to cap emissions for the first time and the US committing to deep reductions by 2025.
The pledges in an agreement struck between President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jingping, provide an important boost to international efforts to reach a global deal on reducing emissions beyond 2020 at a United Nations meeting in Paris next year.
China, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, has agreed to cap its output by 2030 or earlier if possible. Previously China had only ever pledged to reduce the rapid rate of growth in its emissions. Now it has also promised to increase its use of energy from zero-emission sources to 20% by 2030.
The United States has pledged to cut its emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.
Speaking at a joint press conference at the Great Hall of the People, Obama said: “As the world’s largest economies and greatest emitters of greenhouse gases we have special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change. I am proud we can announce a historic agreement. I commend President Xi, his team and the Chinese government for their making to slow, peak and then reverse China’s carbon emissions.”
He said the US emissions reductions goal was “ambitious but achievable” and would double the pace at which it is reducing carbon emissions.
“This is a major milestone in US-China relations and shows what is possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge.”
He added that they hoped “to encourage all major economies to be ambitious and all developed and developing countries to work across divides” so that an agreement could be reached at the climate change talks in Paris in December next year.
Xi Jinping said: “We agreed to make sure international climate change negotiations will reach agreement as scheduled at the Paris conference in 2015 and agreed to deepen practical co-operation on clean energy, environmental protection and other areas.”
China’s target to expand energy from zero-emission sources to around 20% by 2030 was “notable”, a White House statement said. “It will require China to deploy an additional 800-1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission generation capacity by 2030 – more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to total current electricity generation capacity in the United States.”