News Release

U.S.-China Climate Deal: What the Cheering Overlooks

CNN is reporting: “In a historic climate change deal, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced both countries will curb their greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades. Under the agreement, the United States would cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26-28 percent before the year 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and will also aim to get 20 percent of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by the same year.”

JANET REDMAN, [in D.C.] Janet at ips-dc.org, @Janet_IPS
Redman is climate policy program director at the Institute for Policy Studies. She said today: “This announcement from the U.S. and China to reduce greenhouse emissions is a signal that the two largest climate polluters are moving on climate change. But comparing their pledges to what science says is needed to avoid climate catastrophe, a global cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by mid-century, these economic powerhouses are not taking that threat seriously enough.

“Both countries can and need to do more. The U.S. must up the ambition of its target, strengthen its Clean Power Plan to phase out of all fossil fuels, and contribute its fair share to the Green Climate Fund. China could peak emissions sooner, move out of coal faster, and abandon wasteful efforts to capture and pump carbon pollution into the ground.

“One test of success of cooperation between the U.S. and China will be whether it builds momentum in global negotiations for a new legally-binding climate deal in Paris at the end of next year that reflects the science and equity in action. Another is whether working together creates common cause for a just transition to a 100 percent renewable energy future that’s good for workers, climate-vulnerable communities, and families on the frontline of dirty energy pollution.

“Without clear pathways and legal commitments, even the most encouraging words ring hollow.”

DAPHNE WYSHAM, daphne.wysham at gmail.com, @daphnewysham
Wysham is climate policy fellow at the Center for Sustainable Economy. She said today: “The deal brokered between China and the U.S. on greenhouse gas emissions is significant but only because our expectations are so low. The three primary flaws in this agreement: 1) It kicks the can down the road to 2030, when climate science tells us China must peak its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020; 2) The U.S. can continue to export the equivalent of five times the carbon contained in the Keystone XL pipeline annually in new, heavily subsidized coal, oil and gas shipments without taking responsibility for these greenhouse gas emissions; and 3) China’s plan to expand its fleet of nuclear power plants is a dangerous and expensive response to the climate crisis, ignoring the lessons of Fukushima.” See Wysham’s recent appearance on The Real News.

STEVE HORN, steve at desmogblog.com, @Desmogblog
Horn is editor of Desmogblog, which seeks to “clear the PR pollution that clouds climate science.” He said today: “As the saying goes, read the fine print: nuclear energy will be accounted for as ‘zero emission’ and it looks like carbon capture and storage (CCS) will too, aka ‘clean coal,’ or ’21st Century Coal’ as the U.S. has preferred to call it in terms of its wheeling and dealing with China. Plus we have to ask: are the demands in line with the climate science? Perhaps they — climate scientists — should be consulted before declaring the agreement a ‘gamechanger.’ I think I’ll leave my pom-poms in the closet for now.” See: “In Push For Nuclear Power, Climate Change Concerns Overlooked.”