China and U.S. Enter Historic Accord on Climate Change

China and U.S. Enter Historic Accord on Climate Change

The new leadership from China is game changing event for international climate cooperation. The U.S. continues progress despite gridlock in Congress. International climate cooperation is working.

Quotes from key experts:

Today’s announcement is the political breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.  If the two biggest players on climate are able to get together, from two very different perspectives, the rest of the world can see that it’s possible to make real progress.”

– Timothy E. Wirth, former Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs under President Bill Clinton, and Vice Chair of the United Nations Foundation

Today’s joint climate announcement by the US and China is historic, and adds real momentum to the drive for a strong international climate agreement in Paris at the end of next year.  It also represents an unprecedented level of cooperation between the world’s two largest economies to address one of the greatest challenges the planet faces.  Those who have been arguing that the United States shouldn’t act on climate change because other countries like China won’t join us will now need to look for new arguments to justify their real goal of avoiding any limits on carbon pollution.

By putting down a marker for post-2020 emissions reductions, and engaging so intensively with China’s leaders, President Obama has once again demonstrated his commitment to use the full authority of his office to confront the threat of climate change.”

– Alden Meyer, Director of Strategy and Policy; Union of Concerned Scientists

The joint announcement by President Obama and President Xi is an extremely hopeful sign. Even if the targets aren’t as ambitious as many might hope, the world’s two largest carbon emitters are stepping up together with serious commitments. This will help get other countries on board and greatly improves the odds for a solid global deal next year in Paris.

These targets will require major undertakings by both countries. Clearly the leaders of the world’s two largest economies have decided the risks posed by climate change justify stronger action to cut carbon emissions. And they’re confident they can keep growing their economies at the same time.

In the case of the United States, the new target is pushing the limits of what can be done under existing law. We can get there if Congress doesn’t stand in the way, and if states roll up their sleeves and work with businesses and other stakeholders to craft smart, practical plans to cut emissions from power plants. But to go much further, we’ll ultimately need Congress to act.

For too long it’s been too easy for both the U.S. and China to hide behind one another.  People on both sides pointed to weak action abroad to delay action at home. This announcement hopefully puts those excuses behind us. We’ll only avert the worst risks of climate change by acting together.”

– Bob Perciasepe, President; Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

The U.S. and China announcements are historic and provide a pathway for a strong international climate agreement by the end of 2015.  These early commitments, backed by the ability to keep bending the curve of emissions lower as well as the established commitments to adaptation and mitigation in the developing nations, represent a breakthrough in the political effort to meet the exceptionally clear challenge outlined by the scientific community.  This level of cooperation represents a first for China and the U.S., opens a new chapter in international climate negotiations, and bodes well for the remainder of the process leading up to Paris.

The Chinese commitment to set an absolute limit on emissions and establish a target for peak emissions is truly historic.  Along with commitments to the low carbon energy economy and leaving the door open to earlier peak carbon dates, China has established itself as a global partner and leader in these climate negotiations.

The U.S. commitment to reducing carbon emissions builds on the concrete steps the Obama Administration has already take to curb emissions, is consistent with its previous commitments to the international community but also acknowledges the domestic political challenges of a Congress that is heavily tied to the polluter lobby.  The administration’s commitment reflects a pragmatic view of what can be done in the next ten years in the U.S. within the limits set by Congress.

These actions, in concert with those from other nations, will make significant progress towards averting the worst impacts of climate change.