Measurement and Compliance

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.

Chinese and U.S. Cities, States and Provinces Announce Climate Targets and Extensive Cooperation

At this week’s U.S.-China Climate Leaders Summit in Los Angeles, eleven cities and provinces from across China committed to reach a peak in their carbon dioxide emissions before the national goal to peak around 2030. The cities and provinces—along with eighteen U.S. counterparts, which announced emissions reduction targets—also pledged to track and report their emissions, establish climate action plans, and enhance U.S.-China cooperation at the subnational level.

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.

US and China Strike Deal on Climate Change -- "Now You're Talking"

This post originally appeared on WRI’s Insights blog:

The American expression “now you’re talking,” actually means “now you’re getting real.” Getting real on steps to confront climate change means moving from talking to action—big action.

And that’s the signal out of Beijing from yesterday’s summit between President Obama and President Xi Jinping. President Obama pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. President Xi announced targets to peak carbon dioxide emissions around 2030—with the intention to peak sooner—and to increase China’s non-fossil fuel share of energy to around 20 percent by 2030. Next steps will be important, but this accord signals a significant move forward for climate action—in the United States, in China, and internationally.

Clayton Munnings

Clayton Munnings is a Research Associate at Resources for the Future, a non-partisan think tank based in Washington DC. Clayton’s research focuses on the use of market-based instruments to reduce carbon emissions in developed and developing countries, including China. Clayton holds a BS in Science of Natural and Environmental Systems with a concentration in Environmental and Resource Economics from Cornell University.

Contact Info: 

Resources for the Future
Twitter: @ClaytonMunnings
(202) 328-5177

China’s performance on the 2014 Environmental Performance Index: What are the key takeaways?

Amidst headlines detailing off-the-charts air pollution in Beijing, it may come as a surprise that China’s latest environmental scorecard does boast bright spots. The 2014 Yale Environmental Performance Index (EPI) – a biennial global ranking of how well countries perform on a range of critical environmental issues – ranks China at 118 out of 178 countries. With respect to other emerging economies with rapid growth and development, China does not fare as well overall as Brazil (77th), Russia (73rd), or South Africa (72th), but is considerably ahead of India, which ranked 155th. However, China is a leader in addressing climate change and is taking corrective action to address weaknesses.