China and the US agree on Climate Emissions Reductions... sort of

12-Nov-2014

The United States and China announced an agreement Wednesday that says both countries “intend” to cut carbon emissions in the coming years, but contains no binding language requiring that goal to be met.

The deal also largely repeats China’s proposal from earlier this summer, and doesn’t commit China to move any faster as some had hoped.

The agreement does represent a commitment from President Barack Obama to speed up reductions in U.S. carbon emissions, something he will have some say over as president for the next two years. Obama has already pledged to cut emissions by 17 percent by 2020, and the deal with China says the U.S. “intends” to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025.

It says the U.S. will “make best efforts” to hit the 28 percent target.

Language pertaining to China is even softer. It says China “intends” to have peak CO2 emissions happen “around 2030,” and that China will “make best efforts to peak early.” But that language doesn’t appear to put any limits on Chinese emissions until “around 2030,” and leaves open the possibility that emissions will continue peaking after that date.

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