United States-China Cooperation
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.
Climate change looms large among the many issues on the table at the upcoming meeting of Presidents Xi and Obama in the U.S. next week. Any new developments at that meeting will build on announced domestic efforts to address the issue, starting with a joint declaration in Beijing last November of what would become the main elements of each country’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (or INDC). In its INDC, China has pledged to reverse the increase in its CO2 emissions to peak by 2030 or sooner.
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 made international news recently when it announced a new pledge to peak its emissions by 2030, in addition to other climate commitments. The country laid out 15 specific actions as part of its “intended nationally determined contribution” (INDC). One in particular–curbing emissions from the buildings sector–offers significant potential for helping China achieve its new climate goals.
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.
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.
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.”
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).
- The U.S.-China Renewable Energy Partnership (USCREP) aims to advance the viability of renewable energy by addressing barriers to deployment and grid integration.
- The USCREP promotes policy, planning, and coordination for renewable energy; supports efficient grid integration for renewable generation; participates in efforts to develop international standards for the quality of wind and solar technology; and promotes the deployment of distributed solar generation and concentrated solar power.
- Opportunities for U.S. clean technologies through USCREP-fostered cooperation lead to potential job creation and expanding exports.
Given last November’s historic joint climate announcement, much anticipation has been focused on the contributions of the United States and China towards December’s Paris climate deal. At the end of March, the United States announced its intended nationally-determined contribution (INDC), and China is expected to release the details of its pledge in the next few months. Already, there is concern that the country submissions are behind and that they will not be sufficient to narrow the emissions gap sufficiently after 2020 to contain global temperature rise. That countries might submit less ambitious commitments is a serious concern, as the Climate Action Tracker has said about Japan’s prospective commitments, for example. Either way, the reductions needed to avoid dangerous climate change are so substantial that additional “cycles of action” are needed both at the upcoming Paris Summit and beyond.