Ahead of G20 in Hangzhou, U.S. and China Join Paris Agreement

On September 3rd, 2016, the United States and China formally joined the Paris Agreement on climate change. The announcement came at a bilateral meeting between President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping on Saturday, ahead of the upcoming G20 summit in Hangzhou, China. The announcement provides a major boost in the momentum behind the effort needed for the Paris Agreement to enter into force, which is likely to happen before the end of 2016. In order for the agreement to enter into force, a total of 55 countries representing 55% of global GHG emissions must join. China and the United States are the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, accounting for a combined 38% of global emissions.

This statement is the latest of several joint announcements between the United States and China on climate change over the past several years. Their 2014 joint announcement of climate goals encouraged other countries to announce their goals and set the stage for the 2015 Paris Agreement. With their latest announcement, the U.S. and China continue to drive climate action. This should encourage other countries to join the Paris Agreement as well, as it is becoming increasingly clear that clean energy and climate action are not only compatible with economic growth but essential for it. Moreover, only with widespread effort can nations meet the Paris objective of keeping global climate change below 2 degrees Celsius and avoiding the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

In addition to the announcement about joining the Paris Agreement, the statement includes other action on clean energy and climate change.

The statement follows:

U.S.-CHINA CLIMATE CHANGE COOPERATION OUTCOMES
September 3, 2016

1. President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping have forged a historic partnership between the United States and China to lead in combatting climate change. From the Sunnylands meeting in 2013, to the landmark November 2014 Joint Announcement on Climate Change and the September 2015 and March 2016 Joint Presidential Statements on Climate Change, leadership by the United States and China has galvanized global action to build a green, low-carbon, and climate-resilient world and was a major contributor to achieving the historic Paris Agreement. Climate change has formed a central pillar of the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Both sides are committed to implementing the three presidential joint statements on climate change and will continue to deepen and broaden bilateral climate change cooperation, building on the concrete progress and productive outcomes achieved thus far.

2. Today, the United States and China deposited with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon their respective instruments to join the Paris Agreement, marking a significant contribution towards the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement. The two Presidents call on all other Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to join the Paris Agreement as early as possible with the expectation of the Agreement’s entry into force this year. The Presidents further express their continued commitment to work together and with others to promote the full implementation of the Paris Agreement. The United States and China will formulate and publish their respective strategies for mid-century, low-greenhouse gas emission development. The United States will release its strategy in 2016, and China will do so as early as possible. The two countries agree to hold a series of technical exchanges on the formulation of such strategies, beginning this year.

3. The United States and China are committed to working bilaterally and with other countries to advance the post-Paris negotiation process and to achieve successful outcomes this year in related multilateral fora. The United States and China commit to work together and with others to reach agreement this year on an ambitious and comprehensive HFC amendment to the Montreal Protocol, including an early first reduction step and early freeze date for Article 2 and Article 5 Parties respectively and an ambitious phase-down schedule, with increased and adequate financial support from Article 2 Parties to help Article 5 Parties with their implementation. The United States and China also intend to work together on critical research regarding the safe use of flammable alternatives and commit to collaborate on enhanced domestic action to reduce use of HFCs, improve efficiency standards, support policies to transform the air conditioning market, and remain active participants in the Clean Energy Ministerial’s Advanced Cooling Challenge.

4. The two sides welcome the decision of the ICAO Council to forward to the ICAO Assembly its recommended Resolution on a global market-based measure to address carbon emissions from international aviation. Recognizing the important role of international aviation in addressing climate change, the United States and China support the ICAO Assembly to reach consensus on a global market-based measure this October, and expect to be early participants in such measure.

5. The two Presidents celebrate the achievements of the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group (CCWG) and U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC) in recent years and commit to further enhance bilateral cooperation on climate change under these and other frameworks. They welcome the success of the U.S.-China Climate-Smart/Low-Carbon Cities Summits in 2015 and 2016 and look forward to the next summit, to be held in Boston, the United States, in 2017, as well as the next Clean Energy Ministerial to be hosted by China in 2017.

6. The United States and China commit to continue taking ambitious domestic action to further promote the transition towards green, low-carbon and climate-resilient economies both domestically and internationally.

7. In the United States’ power sector, a five-year extension of production and investment tax credits for wind and solar energy will deploy roughly 100GW of renewable energy over the next five years, and the United States has paused new coal leasing on federal lands, while undertaking a comprehensive review of the federal coal program, which makes up roughly 40% of United States coal supply. In the transportation sector, the United States has finalized efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles, which will reduce more than 1 billion tons of carbon pollution over the life of the program. In the building sector, the United States is on track to finalize 20 additional efficiency standards for appliances and equipment by the end of the year, which will contribute to achieving its goal of cutting 3 billion metric tons of carbon pollution from such standards. With respect to non-CO2 emissions, the United States finalized this year measures to reduce domestic HFCs and methane from the oil and gas and landfill sectors.

8. China is making great efforts to advance ecological civilization and promote green, low-carbon, climate resilient and sustainable development. During the 13th Five-Year Period (2016-2020), China will lower its carbon dioxide per unit of GDP and energy consumption per unit of GDP by 18% and 15% respectively, increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to 15% and increase the forest stock volume by 1.4 billion cubic meters, as concrete and crucial steps towards implementing its nationally determined contribution. China will continue its efforts to increase energy efficiency in industries, transportation and buildings, promote green power dispatch to accelerate the development of renewable energy, start in 2017 its national emission trading system and phase down the production and consumption of HFCs. China will also promote low-carbon development of transportation by developing standard modern transportation equipment and energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly means of transport.

9. Internationally, as part of an ongoing commitment to strengthen low-carbon policies, in 2015 the United States worked with other OECD member countries to adopt new OECD guidelines to limit export finance for overseas coal-fired power plants. The United States also remains committed with other developed countries to the goal of jointly mobilizing 100 billion US dollars per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation and adaptation action. This funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including alternative sources of finance. China is taking concrete steps to strengthen green and low-carbon policies and regulations with a view to strictly controlling public investment flowing into projects with high pollution and carbon emissions both domestically and internationally.


Photo credit: Whitehouse.gov