Coal for Electricity

Taking Stronger Action on Climate Change: China and the United States

Key Questions:

  • Q: How have the joint U.S.-China announcements helped create momentum for global climate action?
  • Q: Is it true that under its new commitments, China might avoid doing anything to address climate change until 2030?
    A: No. China will need to take stronger near-term action to meet its commitments and has begun to do so.
  • Q: Is China starting from scratch in trying to fulfill its commitments, or has it already taken steps in this direction?
    A: China is already taking action to strengthen all of the building blocks of its strategy to shift to low-carbon energy.
  • Q: Do we have reason to believe that China will follow through on its commitments?
    A: Yes. China has already made progress on its energy and emissions targets and has strong reasons of national interest to build on its current efforts.
  • Q: What is the benefit of the U.S. and China, and many other countries, taking action together?
    A: With countries acting together, each can have confidence its actions are part of a global effort to address climate change.
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US-China Climate Change Announcement Signals New Phase for Global Action

This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog:

Nearly a year ago, the United States and China laid out their national climate action plans for the coming years. These were the first in what is now a substantial list of national climate action plans—plans that will form the basis of a new international climate agreement to be finalized in Paris later this year. Now, the world’s two biggest emitters have taken the next step by cementing their plans, jointly announcing key actions they’ll take to achieve their national goals, and clarifying their views on the upcoming Paris agreement.

On the Path to Paris, Obama and Xi Invite Stronger Global Climate Ambition

The latest Obama-Xi announcement sends a strong message: the two nations are acting fast to enable a global low carbon transition. Friday’s joint announcement is an unprecedented step by the world’s #1 and #2 emitters to commit, at the highest levels, to a strong set of domestic policies and to reinforce global mechanisms that will help to engage peers ahead of the upcoming landmark climate change negotiations in Paris.

US-China Cooperation is Good News for the Climate

The US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change is a landmark for the bilateral relationship in terms of its specificity and ambition. This is especially true given that many Chinese wonder at the direction of US policy given that none of the Republican candidates in next year’s election support strong climate policy.

China Is Raising Its Climate Ambition, Experts Say

This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog:

China is increasing its ambition in addressing climate change, and it has a strong national interest in sustaining its actions. That’s according to a recent panel of experts convened by WRI’s ChinaFAQs project and the Environmental and Energy Study Institute.

Stronger Commitments from China and US Are Breakthrough for International Climate Action

With the current climate negotiations reaching a conclusion in Paris this coming December, we are at a pivotal moment in the global effort to address climate change and shift to a low-carbon development path. The United States and China, which together make up 38 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions (as of 2012), are playing an important role.

Yet there has been confusion about China’s climate action commitments, as well as the fact that both China and the U.S. are taking significant action. Here’s a look at China’s progress to date, and what implications it has for international climate action.

China Announces Next Steps in Shift to Low-Carbon Path

As China unveiled its contribution (“INDC”) to the international climate negotiations, affirming the pledges it made in its joint announcement with the U.S. in November, a spokesman for Christian Aid, Mohamed Adow, said, “The pledge marks a significant shift away from a fossil fuel-intensive development path to one focused on renewables on a scale the world has never yet seen.” Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute called it “a serious and credible” effort, and said “China’s commitment was made possible by its ambitious clean energy policies and investments enacted over the past decade.”

Momentum For Paris Agreement Builds from U.S.-China Climate Change Pledges

With the U.S. release of its proposal for the international climate negotiations and proposals expected soon from other countries, the negotiations are intensifying. A key factor in this dynamic is China’s November commitment to peak its emissions and scale up non-fossil energy, which has shifted the global debate on climate action. China is already taking action on multiple fronts to meet its new goals.

Reports from China Suggest Low-Carbon Shift in 2014

Drawing on preliminary energy demand data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics, Bloomberg New Energy Finance has estimated that China’s carbon dioxide emissions fell by 2 percent last year, the first reduction in over a decade. Other reports indicate China’s coal consumption also declined, by 2.9 percent, in 2014; and the share of non-fossil energy in China’s energy consumption rose last year, while coal fell as a percentage of the country’s energy mix. According to the International Energy Agency, even as the global economy grew by 3%, global energy-related carbon emissions did not rise in 2014, due to shifts in energy use in China and OECD countries.

Bloomberg article

International Energy Agency press release

Coal Limits and Possible Early Carbon Peak Previewed by China Climate and Energy Expert

Professor Qi Ye, director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy, commented at London-based think tank IPPR on his expectations for China’s upcoming 13th Five Year Plan, which will go into effect early next year. Profesor Qi expects the Chinese government to place a cap on CO2 emissions—consistent with the planned carbon market starting next year—and assign “absolute coal consumption caps” to more than the 30% of provinces presently covered. He also emphasized that China is making efforts to reach a peak in CO2 emissions earlier than its 2030 target. These comments come in the wake of reports that China’s coal consumption fell in 2014.

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