On November 11th, the United States and China announced the result of months of secret negotiations on commitments to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. and China are the world’s two largest sources of carbon pollution, with their combined footprints accounting for over one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Countries around the world had been waiting for the U.S. and China to agree to carbon reductions. Now that they have, leaders are more optimistic that a global accord can finally be hammered out in 2015.
Here’s our breakdown on what each country committed to, and what it will mean over the next 16 years.
What the U.S. and China committed to:
- The United States has agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
- China agreed to peak CO2 emissions around 2030 and increase non-fossil fuel energy sources to around 20 percent by 2030.
What is important about the announcement?
- It is an historic announcement that makes a positive outcome in Paris in 2015 more likely.
- 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.
- The joint announcement marks the first time China has agreed to peak its CO2 emissions.
- China’s target to expand their total energy reliance on zero-emission sources to around 20 percent by 2030 will require the deployment of an additional 800-1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero emission generation capacity by 2030. That’s more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to total current electricity generation capacity in the United States.
The fine print:
It’s important to note that while this is an important and historic first step, far more needs to be done. This is a beginning, not an end. The rapidly closing window of opportunity to avoid the worst impacts from climate change, and keep global average temperatures below 2º C, will require an increasing level of ambition in 2015 and beyond. Click below to get involved and keep the pressure on our leaders to reach an effective and definite solution, starting right now.