Historic: China and US Agree to Limit Greenhouse Emissions

November 12, 2014

For in depth view of the negotiating process, see Jeff Goodell’s Rolling Stone piece (he’s everywhere) here:

For the U.S., pushing for action is imperative: If China makes an aggressive move on carbon, it kills a favorite political talking point from climate deniers in Congress. “I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve sat in where the subject of ‘What is China doing?’ comes up,” says Podesta. “For us, it’s important that we take that objection off the table.”

For the Chinese, beyond the obvious motivation to clean up the air, the question is what they want from the U.S. in return. As Kerry put it to me later, “The Chinese have a lot of stuff they want from us. We have natural gas. We have coal. We have clean-energy technology.” How this bargaining works out is the heart of the negotiations and gets into complex areas like protection of intellectual property rights. In the past, the Chinese simply wanted to buy our technology, copy it and manufacture it more cheaply than anyone else. “But that dynamic has changed,” says one Department of Energy official. “Now the deals are much more about joint ventures and shared investment.”

CNN:

Beijing (CNN) — At the end of the APEC trade summit in China, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a climate change agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping that would cut both countries’ greenhouse gas emissions by close to a third over the next two decades.

Under the deal, the United States would cut its carbon emissions between 26-28% — from levels established in 2005 — by 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions no later than 2030 and would also increase the use of non-fossil fuels to 20% by 2030.

“As the world’s two largest economies, energy consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases, we have a special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change,” Obama said Wednesday in a joint press conference with Xi.

Obama said he hopes the announcement will spur other nations to tackle climate change.

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6 Responses to “Historic: China and US Agree to Limit Greenhouse Emissions”

  1. MorinMoss Says:

    After this week’s midterm election results, this just isn’t going to happen.


  2. Regarding this quote: As Kerry put it to me later, “The Chinese have a lot of stuff they want from us. We have natural gas. We have coal. We have clean-energy technology.” More coal and fracked gas will not lower emissions.


    • The more I get to “know” Kerry, the more I think that he is a total moron. I’m kind of relieved that he never got to be president. Unfortunately, his opponent in the 2004 election – George W Bush – was (and still is) a moron among morons. I get depressed when I think about what kind of people get nominated by both the Republicans and Democrats to be America’s leaders. Is this the best they can do?

      Some day the USA will wake up and realize that it has little to offer the world, other than some natural resources and scrap metal. Even agricultural exports – one of the USA’s supposed trump cards – are falling due to countries banning GMO crops. The glory days when US technology was unsurpassed are rapidly drawing to a close. A quick stroll through the aisles of any Wal-Mart should make it clear that China has a lot more to offer.

  3. dumboldguy Says:

    Here’s some of what Bill McKibben at 350.org had to say. Good points all, but 2-4-5-8 are most significant, IMO

    Friends,

    1) It is historic. John Kerry was right to use the phrase in his New York Times oped announcing the deal: for the first time a developing nation has agreed to eventually limit its emissions. This is a necessity for advancing international climate negotiations.

    2) It isn’t binding in any way. In effect President Obama is writing an IOU to be cashed by future presidents and Congresses (and Xi is doing the same for future Politburos). If they take the actions to meet the targets, then it’s meaningful, but for now it’s a paper promise. And since physics is uninterested in spin, all the hard work lies ahead.

    3) It is proof — if any more was needed — that renewable energy is ready to go. The Chinese say they’ll be using clean sources to get 20% of their energy by 2030 — which is not just possible, it should be easy. Which they know because they’ve revolutionized the production of solar energy, driving down the cost of panels by 90% or more in the last decade.

    4) It is not remotely enough to keep us out of climate trouble. We’ve increased the temperature less than a degree and that’s been enough to melt enormous quantities of ice, not to mention set the weather on berserk. So this plan to let the increase more than double is folly — though it is good to see that the two sides have at least agreed not to undermine the 2 degrees Celsius warming target, the one tiny achievement of the 2009 Copenhagen conference fiasco.

    5) It is a good way to put pressure on other nations. I’ve just come back from India, which has worked hard to avoid any targets of any sort. But the lesson from this pact is, actual world leaders at least need to demonstrate they’re talking about climate; it makes the lead-up to the global negotiations in Paris next year more interesting.

    6) It is a reason projects like Keystone XL and fracking make even less sense than ever. If President Obama is serious about meeting these kinds of targets, then we need serious steps; the surest way to undermine this commitment would be to approve new pipelines or authorize other new fossil fuel developments like fracking. If you pledge sobriety and then buy a keg of beer, people are going to wonder.

    7) It is another reminder that it is past time to divest from fossil fuels. The burgeoning divestment movement has been arguing not just on moral grounds, but also making the point that the future will inevitably lead to a downsloping curve for the old energies. This is another warning — for anyone who looks more than a few quarters out, the writing is on the wall that the fossil fuel era is on its way out.

    8) It’s not, in any way, a stretch goal. These numbers are easy — if you were really being cynical, you could say they’re trying to carefully manage a slow retreat from fossil fuels instead of really putting carbon on the run. The Germans, for instance, will be moving in on 60% of their energy from clean sources by the mid-2020s, when we’ll still be cutting carbon emissions by small increments.

  4. redskylite Says:

    Positive news, although I wonder what will happen in 2016 if the helm is changed. Interesting view from Times of India on the possible pressures felt by India (ranked as country number 4 for total CO2 emissions). I wonder what it will take to get all political parties singing the same tune. (unfortunately something lethal I suspect).

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/global-warming/US-China-reach-climate-change-deal-putting-heat-on-India/articleshow/45129465.cms


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