US – China Carbon Deal: Reaction Roundup

November 12, 2014

Looking like a game changer.  Congressional Climate Deniers already chewing the carpet.

Joe Romm of Climate Progress has posted a good review piece here. He told me in an email:

..this  eviscerates the conservative primary argument against domestic US climate action — that we are  supposedly sacrificing while the biggest polluter does not. Indeed, this  actually reframes the entire issue. Now GOP attacks on EPA standards EPA and Obama’s larger climate actions can be seen for what they really are — an effort to kill this deal with China and stop the nations of the world from coming together to prevent catastrophic climate change.​

In his piece, he elaborates:

The historic new U.S.-China climate deal changes the trajectory of global carbon pollution emissions, greatly boosting the chances for a global deal in Paris in 2015. The deal would keep, cumulatively, some 640 billion tons of CO2 emissions out of the air this century, according to brand new analysis by Climate Interactive and MIT, using their C-ROADS model.

The U.S.-China deal is truly a gamechanger. In fact, you could make a strong case that prior to this deal, neither the U.S. or China were seriously in the game of trying to stave off climate catastrophe. Now both countries are.

When you add the recent European Union (EU) pledge to cut total emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, we now have countries representing more than half of all global emissions making serious commitments — and that in turn puts pressure on every other country. If the developing countries were to all follow China’s lead, and the non-EU developed countries follow ours, a 2015 global deal would slash carbon pollution this century by a whopping 2500 billion tons of CO2 (see figure below).

Secretary of State John Kerry in the New York Times:

Today, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are jointly announcing targets to reduce carbon emissions in the post-2020 period. By doing this – together, and well before the deadline established by the international community – we are encouraging other countries to put forward their own ambitious emissions reduction targets soon and to overcome traditional divisions so we can conclude a strong global climate agreement in 2015.

Our announcement can inject momentum into the global climate negotiations, which resume in less than three weeks in Lima, Peru, and culminate next year in Paris. The commitment of both presidents to take ambitious action in our own countries, and work closely to remove obstacles on the road to Paris, sends an important signal that we must get this agreement done, that we can get it done, and that we will get it done.

The Chinese targets also represent a major advance. For the first time China is announcing a peak year for its carbon emissions – around 2030 – along with a commitment to try to reach the peak earlier. That matters because over the past 15 years, China has accounted for roughly 60 percent of the growth in carbon dioxide emissions world-wide. We are confident that China can and will reach peak emissions before 2030, in light of President Xi’s commitments to restructure the economy, dramatically reduce air pollution and stimulate an energy revolution.

China is also announcing today that it would expand the share of total energy consumption coming from zero-emission sources (renewable and nuclear energy) to around 20 percent by 2030, sending a powerful signal to investors and energy markets around the world and helping accelerate the global transition to clean-energy economies. To meet its goal, China will need to deploy an additional 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other renewable generation capacity by 2030 – an enormous amount, about the same as all the coal-fired power plants in China today, and nearly as much as the total electricity generation capacity of the United States.

Business Week:

The U.S. and China have “been two of the most difficult players in the history of the climate negotiations,” Jake Schmidt, director of international programs for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, told Bloomberg News, “so the fact that they are coming out and saying they are going to take deep commitments will be a powerful signal to the rest of the world.”

In a way, the promise from Xi simply highlights a policy China has already been pursuing. The country, for instance, has been devoting considerable resources to developing wind and solar power and is trying to reduce its reliance on the most polluting types of coal. But while the Chinese had been doing this domestically, they “never explicitly made a commitment before,” according to Opdyke. Now, with China for the first time committing to reduce its output of carbon dioxide, other countries that had been reluctant to make any pledges will no longer be able to use Chinese inaction as a convenient excuse. “This,” he says, “cuts them off at the knees.”

China’s willingness to make such a promise is a sign that the government is making progress, notwithstanding the foul air in Beijing and other cities. Otherwise, Xi wouldn’t risk the embarrassment. The Chinese “absolutely will not agree to any targets that they don’t think they can make,” says Roger Jones, a professorial research fellow at the Victoria Institute of Strategic Economic Studies at Victoria University in Melbourne. “We can be quite confident that this one is gettable.”



6 Responses to “US – China Carbon Deal: Reaction Roundup”

  1. omnologos Says:


    emissions growing until then

    what levels Chinese emissions in 16 years’ time?

    This looks like kicking the issue into the long grass. Neither of these guys will be in charge in 2030.

    Expect Brazil to pledge cap by 2040 and India by 2060. Meaningless promises.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      Meaningless comment from Omno.

      • omnologos Says:

        China agreed to negotiate legally binding restrictions. Yesterday? No, at Durban three years ago.

        I hadn’t realized the meaning of “urgent”

        • There were no specific targets in the Durbin agreement which was to negotiate a legally binding agreement by 2015.

          • omnologos Says:

            There’s no specific target now either. Even assuming the future Chinese leader of 2030 will still care about a promise made to a has been called Obama, evidently China has all incentives to emit as much as possible before the deadline come. Actually, that’s what would guarantee a 2030 peak almost certainly. Like the night before the diet, it’s the best time to gorge oneself.

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