Top greenhouse gas emitters China and the US announced a “historic” pact on Wednesday that could cut their emissions by close to a third over the next two decades, as President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama held talks to push forward new type of major-country ties.
At the end of the APEC trade summit in China, Obama announced a climate change agreement with President Xi.
Under the deal, the United States would cut its carbon emissions between 26-28 per cent — 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 per cent by 2030.
The deal could cut both countries’ greenhouse gas emissions by close to a third over the next two decades.
“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 in a joint press conference with Xi.
Obama said he hopes the announcement will spur other nations to tackle climate change.
“We hope to encourage all major economies to be ambitious — all countries, developing and developed — to work across some of the old divides, so we can conclude a strong global climate agreement next year,” he said.
Obama said the joint announcement on the two countries’ emissions targets was a “historic agreement” and a “major milestone in the US-China relationship”.
Chinese President Xi said: “We agreed to make sure that international climate change negotiations will reach an agreement in Paris.”
It said the announcement marks the first time China has agreed to cut its carbon emissions, and said the Chinese are calling for “an energy revolution” that would include a broad economic reform programme that would address air pollution.”
This will require China to deploy 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 US, a fact sheet circulated by the White House said.
Their agreement came ahead of next year’s make-or-break global climate conference in Paris.
The two presidents resolved to work closely together over the next year to address major impediments to reaching a successful global climate agreement in Paris, it said.
They will also jointly push international climate change negotiations for a new agreement to be reached as planned at a conference in Paris next year.
Addressing a joint press conference after their talks, Obama said the agreement is “a major milestone in the US-China relationship”.
The two countries have established the US-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG), under which they have launched action initiatives on vehicles, smart grids, carbon capture, utilisation and storage, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas data management, forests and industrial boilers.
They also agreed to work together towards the global phase down of hydro fluorocarbons (HFCs), very potent greenhouse gases and created the US-China Clean Energy Research Centre, which facilitates collaborative work in carbon capture and storage technologies, energy efficiency in buildings, and clean vehicles.
They have agreed on a joint peer review of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies under the G-20, the joint statement said.