U.S.-China Joint Agreement on Climate Change

Aaron Rogers (Procrastinator)

The world’s largest polluters, the U.S. and China, have reached a landmark agreement to cut back carbon emissions that will place more pressure on other nations to follow suit.

In a dual announcement made by U.S. President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jingping on Wednesday November 12th, it was revealed that the two countries will take steps to combat climate change.

The U.S. has agreed to cut back carbon emissions by 26 to 28% from 2005 levels, doubling their current reduction rate. China has also agreed for the first time to peak its carbon emissions by 2030 by increasing the use of non-fossil fuel sources to 20% of its total energy production.

On the surface it may seem as though China is getting a better deal, as they can continue growing until 2030, whereas the U.S. must reduce its emissions at a faster rate than while under any previous deal.

However, that’s not the whole story, since China has never made
any agreement to cut back its emissions, citing that they have the “right” to pollute just as much as western countries did during the 20th century. This is the first time China has made any agreement to cap and then eventually reduce carbon emissions.

While China needs no democratic confirmation, the U.S. congress could try to undo the promises made last week thereby undermining the President and the U.S. government as a whole.

This will undoubtedly be a tough sell back home for President Obama. The administration has acknowledged that the agreement will receive a great deal of opposition from a Republican controlled congress. An official said that they will attempt to push the agreement by emphasizing the reduced energy costs and money saved.

“Consumers and businesses will save literally billions of dollars,” a senior administration official said. “The plan offers initiatives and incentives to develop more solar and wind power across both countries”.

World leaders have since praised the agreement with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, urging all other nations to follow suit by announcing their own emissions targets by early next year. Former Vice President and environmentalist, Al Gore, also called China’s move “a signal of groundbreaking progress from the world’s largest polluter.”

President Obama stated that he hopes this agreement will encourage other emitters to develop strategies to fight climate change. “We hope to encourage all major economies to be ambitious — all countries, developing and developed — to work across some of the old divides, so we can conclude a strong global climate agreement next year,” Obama said.

This agreement is quite significant for Canada, since the conservative government’s main argument against reducing emissions has always been that any efforts to reduce global climate change must involve the world’s largest emitters.

Now that the U.S. and China, who account for 40% of global emissions, have made strides to combat climate change the argument effectively eliminates the excuse for Canada’s complacency and puts a great deal of pressure on the government to follow or react in some way.

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