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Breaking News: China and U.S. Agree to Emissions Reduction Plan

A surprise, groundbreaking agreement between China and the United States was unveiled in Beijing at the end of the APEC conference, providing hope that the world can reduce the threat from climate change.
November 12, 2014, 12pm PST | Irvin Dawid
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According to the agreement between Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Obama, the United States will reduce "its emissions by 26 percent - 28 percent below its 2005 level in 2025 (and) China intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030," writes Bill Chappell of NPR's the Two-Way on the landmark agreement reached between the world's top-two carbon emitters.

Pie chart that shows country share of greenhouse gas emissions. 23 percent comes from China; 19 percent from the United States; 13 percent from the EU-27 (excluding Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania); 6 percent from India; 6 percent from the Russian Federation; 4 percent from Japan; 2 percent from Canada; and 28 percent from other countries.

2008 Global CO2 Emissions from Fossil Fuel Combustion and some Industrial Processes (million metric tons of CO2). Credit: EPA; source: National CO2 Emissions from Fossil-Fuel Burning, Cement Manufacture, and Gas Flaring: 1751-2008.

China has also agreed "to make best efforts to peak early and intends to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20 percent by 2030," adds Chappell.

The two leaders' pledges are being called dramatic and ambitious — for the U.S., because Obama's earlier plans had called for a smaller cut in emissions, and for China, because the country had previously resisted calls for it to consider capping its emissions as it grows and modernizes.

An agreement is unlike a climate treaty that would have to be ratified by the U.S. Senate. In addition, "(t)he White House thinks the U.S. can meet these targets without new legislation," says NPR's Scott Horsley, reporting from Beijing for Morning Edition. "That's important, because after last week's midterm elections, we're not likely to see any new climate legislation coming out of Capitol Hill."

I might add that with climate change denier Sen. James Inhofe (R-Ok.) taking the place of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, you can count on that.

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Published on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 in NPR
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