US and Chinese leaders pledge action on greenhouse gases

26th November 2014

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  • Renewable ,
  • Generation ,
  • Conventional


Phill Armstrong

In a joint announcement, US president Barack Obama has pledged to cut net US greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 26-28% by 2025 against 2005 levels, and President Xi Jinping of China has targeted 2030 at the latest for Chinese carbon emissions to peak.

The world’s two largest economies emit around one-third of global GHG emissions. The White House said the actions announced by the two leaders were aimed at injecting momentum into global climate negotiations, which should culminate in a new climate agreement next year in Paris.

In 2009, the US set a 2020 target to reduce GHG emissions by 17% against 2005 levels. The new US goal would double the annual pace of carbon pollution reduction in the country from 1.2% between 2005 and 2020 to 2.3–2.8% between 2020 and 2025.

China, meanwhile, intends to try to meet peak carbon emissions earlier than 2030. It has also pledged to increase the non-fossil fuel share of all energy generation to around 20% by 2030. Achieving that target will require China to deploy up to a 1,000GW of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission generation capacity over the next 15 years – more than all the coal-fired power plants that currently operate in the country.

The US–China announcement follows an earlier decision by EU leaders to endorse the 2030 climate change package from the European commission. It includes reducing EU emissions by at least 40% by 2030 against 1990 levels.

The US and Chinese pledges came ahead of publication by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of its latest synthesis report. It reiterates that man-made climate change is a reality but outlines how coordinated action by governments can limit the impacts of unabated change.

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