United States-China Cooperation
This op-ed originally appeared on The Hill’s Congress Blog:
When U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping jointly announced major targets to combat climate change last November, they did more than chart an ambitious course for their two countries. The leaders of the world’s two biggest economies – which are also the planet’s two biggest energy consumers and greenhouse gas emitters – showed a way forward for U.S. bilateral cooperation with other countries on energy and climate.
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.
For many years, Chinese regulators have learned about nuclear safety from working with the United States, but nuclear safety cooperation is becoming increasingly a two-way street. Nuclear energy could play a significant role in meeting China’s new climate goals stated in its November 11th, 2014 joint announcement with the U.S. This includes targets to peak its carbon dioxide emissions around 2030—with the intention to do so sooner—and to raise the non-fossil fuel share of energy use to around 20 percent by that date. The U.S. and China are working together to ensure attention to safety considerations in China’s projected expansion of nuclear power.
The U.S.-China joint announcement on climate change is an historic milestone to limit carbon pollution. This agreement between the world’s two top economies, which together emit nearly 45 percent of the planet’s carbon pollution1, is a big deal.
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.
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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.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz recently announced plans for a Business Development Mission to China in April, intended to promote U.S. companies’ business in clean energy in China and to bolster U.S.-China clean energy collaboration. The delegation will include representatives from U.S. industries advancing “Smart Cities” and “Smart Growth”.
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.
When President Obama and President Xi Jinping meet next week in Beijing, climate change and energy will be important topics of discussion. As the world’s two biggest emitters, leadership by the U.S. and China is critical as each country’s actions are closely watched by the other and the international community. In addition, interest was heightened when a senior Chinese official talked about the possibility of peak emissions in China at the UN Climate Summit in September.