If you missed this little gem on the news yesterday the U.S. and China pledged Wednesday to take ambitious action to limit greenhouse gases, aiming to inject fresh momentum into the global fight against climate change ahead of high-stakes climate negotiations next year. President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would move much faster in cutting its levels of pollution. Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to cap China’s emissions in the future, a striking, unprecedented move by a nation that has been reluctant to box itself in on global warming. The unexpected declaration from the world’s two largest polluters, unveiled on the last day of Obama’s trip to China, reflected both nations’ desire to display a united front that could blunt arguments from developing countries, which have balked at demands that they get serious about global warming. Yet it was unclear how feasible it would be for either country to meet their goals, and Obama’s pledge was sure to confront tough opposition from ascendant Republicans in Congress. The U.S. set a new target to reduce its emissions of heat-trapping gases by 26 percent to 28 percent by 2025, compared with 2005 levels. That’s a sharp increase from earlier in Obama’s presidency, when he pledged to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020. China, whose emissions are still growing as it builds new coal plants, didn’t commit to cut emissions by a specific amount. Rather, Xi set a target for China’s emission to peak by 2030, or earlier if possible. He also pledged to increase the share of energy that China will derive from sources other than fossil fuels. Let’s hope both countries go beyond the rhetoric and commit to this historic move.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis