CO2 Emissions Agreement between USA and China

Xi Jinping and Barack Obama ©BBC

The agreement between China and the US on carbon emission control and reduction breaks new ground since China has committed to a date for when its emissions will peak and begin to decline.  China (20%) and the USA (15%) emit more than one-third of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  No possible solution for anthropogenic global warming (AGW) could be achieved without these two nations involvement.

The major elements of the agreement are:

  1. China’s emissions will peak by 2030.
  2. USA will reduce emissions by at least 26% from 2005 levels by 2025.
  3. USA will reduce emissions by approximately 80% by 2050.
  4. China will increase the portion of renewable energy production from less than the 10% it produced in 2013 to 20% by 2030.

To achieve its renewables commitment, China will need to add at least 800 gigawatts (GW) of wind, solar, and nuclear power generation in the next 15 years.  This is more than it now produces from coal. It is nearly twice the total electricity production in the USA (~460 GW in 2013). According to some experts this is in line with China’s existing internal targets for zero-carbon energy production. The importance then is China’s making these targets official and public for the first time.

In the USA, Obama will face stiff opposition from Senate Republicans who are firmly in the pocket of the fossil fuel industries. Mitch McConnell, slated to become Senate Majority leader in 2015, already launched the first shot across the bow, characterizing the commitment as a continuation of Obama’s “ideological war on coal.”  His priority in the new Congress will be “easing the burden” of environmental regulations, in other words gutting the EPA, an agency created during fellow Republican Richard Nixon’s administration.

See Reuters and Climate News Network for more information.

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