US, China Pull a Surprise: Major Climate Deal

World's 2 largest polluters join forces to curb emissions
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2014 7:57 AM CST
US, China Pull a Surprise: Major Climate Deal
US President Barack Obama, left, toasts with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a lunch banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Nov. 12, 2014.   (AP Photo/Greg Baker, Pool)

The US and China rank as the world's two largest polluters, but a surprise deal is turning them into the world's two largest pollution fighters: The nations announced that they'll be working in tandem on long-term greenhouse-gas controls that would cut emissions by nearly a third over the next 15 years or so, CNN reports. "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," President Obama said in a joint press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping today at the end of the APEC summit. The move, which was months in the making, came as a surprise to experts expecting a much more limited scope, the Wall Street Journal reports. Calling it a "game changer," Mother Jones notes that it could heavily influence next year's climate talks in Paris.

Key mandates include the US reducing emissions by 26% to 28% by the year 2025 (compared to the year 2005), as well as doubling the rate of emissions reduction each year between 2020 and 2025 to an average 2.3% to 2.8%, the AP reports. China is pledging to stop increasing emissions by 2030 (even earlier, if possible), as well as increase energy from zero-emission sources such as wind, solar, and nuclear to 20% by 2030. Although some worry about recent GOP gains in government as a possible roadblock, a senior administration official tells CNN that "we believe we can proceed with the authority we already have." Secretary of State John Kerry writes in a New York Times op-ed that "this is … a milestone in the United States-China relationship," a "fresh beginning," and "the first step toward a world that is more prosperous and more secure." (Read more US-China relations stories.)

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