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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.
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.
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.
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’s top steel-producing city—Tangshan, Hebei province—is undergoing campaigns to reduce smog through stringent pollution standards and to tackle overcapacity, which entail reduced production, plant shutdowns, and plant renovation. The smog campaigns are part of a larger program to address air pollution and limit coal consumption, while the effort to reduce overcapacity comes as China is working to restructure its economy by reducing the share of energy-intensive industry and increasing the share of services.
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.
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.