Policy and Governance

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.”

Strategic and Economic Dialogue announces climate progress, ChinaFAQs and EESI hold briefing

For the full briefing notice including speakers, topics, and the video recording, click here

At this week’s U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, D.C., the two countries built on their robust cooperation on climate change and clean energy. The U.S. and China pledged to work together to address obstacles to an “ambitious global climate agreement” at this December’s Conference of the Parties in Paris. They also agreed to continue to discuss each country’s post-2020 plans, and announced a new dialogue on domestic policy. The countries highlighted their progress on the initiatives they jointly announced in November, such as phasing down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and expanding the Clean Energy Research Center (CERC).

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.

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.

Read more…

Making Plans: Steps in Development of China's Crucial 13th Five Year Plan

ChinaFAQs expert Angel Hsu and her team at Yale’s Environmental Performance Measurement program have developed an interactive timeline that lays out the steps China is expected to take in developing, enacting and implementing its next Five Year Plan, which will orient the country’s economic and social policy. The 13th Five Year Plan will be announced in early 2016 and will be in place until the 14th Five Year Plan in 2021. The timeline provides details on dates, procedure, and stakeholder involvement for each stage of the process. Past plans have set targets relating to energy and carbon intensity, coal and energy consumption, energy efficiency, and clean energy development. The upcoming 13th Five Year Plan is likely to include additional measures to bend the curve of China’s greenhouse gas emissions downward, and will provide insight into how China will strive to meet its new climate targets for 2030.

To access the timeline, click here

Daniel Kammen on Implementing the U.S.-China Climate Accord

ChinaFAQs expert Dan Kammen describes the implications of the U.S.-China climate accord for the international climate negotiations and for each country. Kammen emphasizes the necessity of clean technologies for China’s continued economic growth, and recommends that both countries pursue innovation regarding their electrical grids and scale up regional carbon pricing policies.

To read the full article, click here

Jonathan Moch

Jonathan Moch is a Graduate Research Fellow at the Harvard China Project and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences with Harvard’s Atmospheric Chemistry Modeling Group. Jonathan’s research interests center on the interactions and feedbacks between climate change and atmospheric chemistry, with a particular focus on China.

Contact Info: 

Harvard University

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences


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.

China Tries to Come to Grips with Pollution