WASHINGTON – Late Tuesday, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly announced targets to reduce carbon emissions in the post-2020 period. This is the first time ever that China has agreed to cap its carbon emissions.
President Obama announced a new target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. At the same time, President Xi Jinping of China announced targets to peak CO2 emissions around 2030, with the intention to try to peak early, and to increase the non-fossil fuel share of all energy to around 20 percent by 2030.
“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,” the President said.
Together, the U.S. and China account for over one third of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The Administration’s steady efforts to reduce emissions will deliver ever-larger carbon pollution reductions, public health improvements and consumer savings over time and provide a firm foundation to meet the new U.S. target.
The joint announcement marks the first time China has agreed to peak its CO2 emissions. The United States expects that China will succeed in peaking its emissions before 2030 based on its broad economic reform program, plans to address air pollution, and implementation of President Xi’s call for an energy revolution.
China’s target to expand total energy consumption coming from zero-emission sources to around 20 percent by 2030 is notable. It will require China to deploy an 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 the United States.
Secretary of State John Kerry welcomed the announcement, proclaiming that it “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.”
Republicans were swift to trash the agreement, starting with Senator Republican leader Mitch McConnel of Kentucky:
“Our economy can’t take the President’s ideological War on Coal that will increase the squeeze on middle-class families and struggling miners. This unrealistic plan, that the President would dump on his successor, would ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs. The President said his policies were on the ballot, and the American people spoke up against them. It’s time for more listening, and less job-destroying red tape. Easing the burden already created by EPA regulations will continue to be a priority for me in the new Congress.”
“Congress may try to stop us, but we believe that with control of Congress changing hands we can proceed with the authority we already have.” a White House official said. “This is really the crusade of a narrow group of people who are politically motivated and have made this a cause celebre, but we believe we will be successful.”