US and China strike landmark climate change and clean energy deal
Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 10:20 AM - In a surprise announcement from the White House late Tuesday night, the United States and China have struck a new deal to reduce their carbon emissions and boost support for clean energy production.
Following through on renewed commitments made at the UN Climate Summit in September, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping acknowledged the critical role their two nations play in addressing climate change, and their need to work together towards bringing about a solid deal, not just between themselves, but with all of the nations that are in attendance at the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in 2015.
According to the White House statement:
The new U.S. goal will double the pace of carbon pollution reduction from 1.2 percent per year on average during the 2005-2020 period to 2.3-2.8 percent per year on average between 2020 and 2025. This ambitious target is grounded in intensive analysis of cost-effective carbon pollution reductions achievable under existing law and will keep the United States on the right trajectory to achieve deep economy-wide reductions on the order of 80 percent by 2050.
The announcement also included the following commitments for this new US-China deal:
- Expanding Joint Clean Energy Research and Development: A renewed commitment to the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center, including continued funding for three existing tracks on building efficiency, clean vehicles and advanced coal technology and launching a new track on the energy-water nexus;
- Advancing Major Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage Demonstrations: Establishment of a major new carbon storage project based in China through an international public-private consortium led by the United States and China to intensively study and monitor carbon storage using industrial CO2 and also work together on a new Enhanced Water Recovery (EWR) pilot project to produce fresh water from CO2 injection into deep saline aquifers;
- Enhancing Cooperation on HFCs: Building on the historic Sunnylands agreement between President Obama and President Xi regarding HFCs, highly potent greenhouse gases, the two sides will enhance bilateral cooperation to begin phasing-down the use of high global warming potential HFCs and work together in a multilateral context as agreed by the two Presidents at their meeting in St. Petersburg on 6 September 2013;
- Launching a Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Initiative: In response to growing urbanization and increasingly significant greenhouse gas emissions from cities and recognizing the potential for local leaders to undertake significant climate action, the United States and China will establish a new initiative on Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities under the CCWG. As a first step, the United States and China will convene a Climate-Smart/ Low-Carbon Cities Summit where leading cities from both countries will share best practices, set new goals and celebrate city-level leadership in reducing carbon emissions and building resilience;
- Promoting Trade in Green Goods: Encouraging bilateral trade in sustainable environmental goods and clean energy technologies, including through a U.S. trade mission led by Secretaries Moniz and Pritzker in April 2015 that will focus on smart low-carbon cities and smart low-carbon growth technologies; and
- Demonstrating Clean Energy on the Ground: Additional pilot programs, feasibility studies and other collaborative projects in the areas of building efficiency, boiler efficiency, solar energy and smart grids.
With the United States and China representing two of the biggest economies in the world, and the largest emitters of carbon dioxide, any forthcoming deal to combat climate change would need strong commitments from both nations. This fact has stymied past agreements, but now, with both stepping up into a joint leadership role, this gives renewed hope of a fruitful outcome to United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in 2015, and some solid action to address one of the greatest threats to the future of human civilization.