- The new U.S.-China agreement on joint targets for carbon dioxide emissions reductions represents the first such commitment by China and reflects a growing confidence in renewable energy technology on the world stage, Greentech Media reports.
- China, which is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, committed to stopping its emissions growth by 2030 or sooner and increasing its 2020 target for total energy from renewables and nuclear from 15% to 20%.
- The U.S. committed to accelerating its voluntary emissions reduction target of 17% by 2020 by 1.2% to 2.8% annually through 2025. The Obama administration goal is to cut U.S. emissions 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025, which would keep the country on track to meet the EPA Clean Power Plan target of a 30% reduction by 2030.
To meet its anticipated energy demand growth, China will need 800-1,000 gigawatts of new nuclear, solar, wind, hydro and other renewable sources by 2030, according to the White House. Greentech Media reports that the historic climate deal shows in part that renewable energy technologies have matured to the point that world leaders see them as a viable alternative to fossil fuels.
"The non-fossil commitment may be the most important piece of the puzzle," the Center for American Progress' Melanie Hart told Greentech. "The amount of renewable and nuclear energy China will have to deploy by 2030 to hit that target is absolutely breathtaking. It will require Chinese leaders to set even harder limits on coal."
The targets set for the U.S. will be “cost-effective” and are “achievable” under the EPA Clean Power Plan, the White House added, according to Greentech.
Critics say the U.S. targets may be compromised by Republican opposition to the EPA plan in the new Congress. They also say China's 2030 emissions reduction commitment is too-little, too-late in the context of the latest scientific findings about climate change.
Advocates say China’s commitment to add to its already-planned 50 gigawatts of nuclear, 70 gigawatts of solar, 150 gigawatts of wind, and 330 gigawatts of hydro is a clear demonstration the government understands the importance of emissions reductions and clean energy technology. China’s use of coal is expected to stop growing between 2014 and 2019.
The new agreement also streamlines cooperation between China and the U.S. on clean energy technology and trade.