On 12 November 2014, China and the United States made common cause against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases.
The landmark agreement, jointly announced by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions, reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030.
President Obama and President Xi also agreed to a military accord designed to avert clashes between Chinese and American planes and warships in the tense waters off the Chinese coast, as well as an understanding to cut tariffs for technology products.
A climate deal between China and the United States, the world’s No. 1 and No. 2 carbon polluters, is viewed as essential to concluding a new global accord. Unless Beijing and Washington can resolve their differences, climate experts say, few other countries will agree to mandatory cuts in emissions, and any meaningful worldwide pact will be likely to founder.
As part of the agreement, President Obama announced that the United States would emit 26 percent to 28 percent less carbon in 2025 than it did in 2005. That is double the pace of reduction it targeted for the period from 2005 to 2020.
China’s pledge to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030, if not sooner, is even more remarkable. To reach that goal, President Xi pledged that so-called clean energy sources, like solar power and windmills, would account for 20 percent of China’s total energy production by 2030.