United States-China Cooperation

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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Kate Gordon

Kate Gordon is Vice Chair of Climate and Sustainable Urbanization at the Paulson Institute, where she provides overall strategy and coordination for the Institute’s climate change, air quality, and sustainable urbanization programs both in the US and China. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal as one of the paper’s “Energy Experts.”

Gordon is a nationally recognized expert on the intersection of clean energy and economic development. Before joining the Paulson Institute, she was Senior Vice President for Climate and Energy at Next Generation, a non-partisan think tank based in San Francisco, where she worked on California policy development as well as large-scale national communications and research projects. While at Next Generation, she helped launch and lead the “Risky Business Project,” co-chaired by Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, and Tom Steyer, and focused on the economic risks the U.S. faces from unmitigated climate change.

Earlier in her career Gordon served as Vice President of Energy and Environment at the Washington D.C.-based Center for American Progress, where helped develop and author policy recommendations related to the Congressional cap-and-trade negotiations, Gulf oil spill, and American Reinvestment and Recovery Act implementation. Prior to CAP, Gordon was the Co-Director of the national Apollo Alliance (now part of the Blue Green Alliance). She still serves on the Apollo Alliance board, as well as on the board of Vote Solar.

Gordon earned a law degree and a master’s degree in city planning from the University of California-Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University.

Contact Info: 

The Paulson Institute

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.

U.S.-China Presidential Summit Offers Opportunity on Climate Change

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.

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.

To Achieve its New Climate Goals, China Must Look to its Buildings

This post is co-written with Clay Nesler, the vice president for global energy and sustainability at Johnson Controls. This post is adapted from a similar post on WRI’s Insights blog.

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.

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.