U.S and China Reach Climate Accord

U.S and China Reach Climate Accord

In a historic climate change deal, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced both countries will curb their greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades, according to cnn.com.

Under the agreement, the United States would cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26-28% before the year 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and will also aim to get 20% of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by the same year.

“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,” Obama said Wednesday in a joint news conference with Xi.

The announcement marks the first time China has agreed to peak its carbon emissions, according to the White House. Xi is calling for “an energy revolution” that would include broad economic reforms addressing air pollution, stated cnn.

Administration officials acknowledged that Mr. Obama could face opposition to his plans from a Republican-controlled Congress. While the agreement with China needs no congressional ratification, lawmakers could try to roll back Mr. Obama’s initiatives, undermining the United States’ ability to meet the new reduction targets.

Still, Mr. Obama’s visit, which came days after a setback in the midterm elections, allowed him to reclaim some of the momentum he lost at home. As the campaign was turning against the Democrats last month, Mr. Obama quietly dispatched John Podesta, a senior adviser who oversees climate policy, to Beijing to try to finalize a deal.

On Tuesday evening, Mr. Xi invited Mr. Obama to dinner at his official residence, telling his guest he hoped they had laid the foundation for a collaborative relationship — or, as he more metaphorically put it, “A pool begins with many drops of water.”

Greeting Mr. Obama at the gate of the walled leadership compound next to the Forbidden City, Mr. Xi squired him across a brightly lighted stone bridge and into the residence. Mr. Obama told the Chinese president that he wanted to take the relationship “to a new level.”

But as the world witnessed this week, it is more complicated than that. Mr. Xi won approval Tuesday from the 21 countries of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to study the creation of a China-led free-trade zone that would be an alternative to Mr. Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trading bloc that excludes China, stated by nytimes.

“We’re going to take what’s been achieved here in Beijing back to Geneva to work with our W.T.O. partners,” said Michael B. Froman, the United States trade representative. “While we don’t take anything for granted, we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to work quickly” to conclude an expansion of the agreement, known as the Information Technology Agreement.

The administration estimated that expanding the Information Technology Agreement would create up to 60,000 jobs in the United States by eliminating tariffs on goods that generate $1 trillion in sales a year. About $100 billion of those products are American-made. The administration faces a longer path on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, including whether Mr. Obama will obtain fast-track trade authority from Congress. That could make it easier for the United States to extract concessions from other countries, since they would have more confidence that the treaty would be ratified by Congress.

“Our economy can’t take the president’s ideological war on coal that will increase the squeeze on middle-class families and struggling miners,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, presumed Senate majority leader, statement following Wednesday’s announcement. “This unrealistic plan, which the president would dump on his successor, would ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs.”

Massive fossil fuel subsidy programs may also hinder the development of cleaner energies across the globe. In its annual World Energy Outlook, released today, the International Energy Agency reported that subsidies to fossil fuel industries reached worldwide in 2013, more than four times those for renewable energy. The Paris-based IEA projects renewable power generation to increase dramatically by 2040 — particularly in emerging economies — though it stressed that continued fossil fuel subsidies have slowed investment in cleaner energy.

“This is the most important climate relationship in the world,” Timothy Wirth, vice chairman of the United Nations Foundation, said in a statement.

Talks with China over expanding the 1997 accord on information technology broke down last year over the scope of the products covered by the agreement. But after intensive negotiations leading up to Mr. Obama’s visit, Mr. Froman said, the Americans and the Chinese agreed Monday evening to eliminate more than 200 categories of tariffs, stated by theverge

“When the U.S. and China are able to work together effectively,” Mr. Xi added, “the whole world benefits.”