China agrees to target emissions peak around 2030, US to cut emissions by 2025

Vehicles on the Third Ring Road on a hazy winter day in Beijing in 2013. China has agreed a target for its emissions of greenhouse gases to peak by "around 2030", the White House said Wednesday as United States President Barack Obama met Xi Jinping f
Vehicles on the Third Ring Road on a hazy winter day in Beijing in 2013. China has agreed a target for its emissions of greenhouse gases to peak by "around 2030", the White House said Wednesday as United States President Barack Obama met Xi Jinping for talks in Beijing. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) – China will aim for a peak in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, while the United States will strive to cut total emissions by more than a quarter by 2025, as the two countries try to drive through a new global climate pact in Paris next year.  

According to a joint announcement by President Xi Jinping and US counterpart Barack Obama in Beijing on Wednesday, China will aim to reach peak CO2 emissions by “around 2030” and strive to achieve the target earlier, while the United States would slash emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent from the 2005 level.  

Senior US administration officials said the commitments, which are the result of months of dialogue between the world’s top two CO2 emitters, would encourage other nations to make pledges and deliver “a shot of momentum” into negotiations for a new global agreement set to go into force in 2020.

“It is a very good sign for both countries and injects strong momentum (into negotiations), but the targets are not ambitious enough and there is room for both countries to negotiate an improvement,” said Tao Wang, climate scholar at the Tsinghua-Carnegie Centre for Global Policy in Beijing.  

China also pledged to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix to around 20 per cent by 2030, from less than 10 per cent in 2013, a move that could require 1,000 gigawatts of new nuclear and renewable capacity, but Wang said the figure took China little further than “business as usual”.

“That figure isn’t high, because China aims to reach about 15 per cent by 2020, so it is only a five percentage point increase in 10 years, and given the huge growth in renewables, it should be higher,” he said.  

Midterm US elections last week gave control over Congress to the Republican Party, casting doubt on the Obama administration’s ability to deliver on tough climate pledges.

Administration officials said the new target, which would double the rate at which the country is now cutting carbon pollution, was achievable under existing laws.  

At the Warsaw climate talks last year, nations were encouraged to draw up post-2020 climate plans by the first quarter of 2015, ahead of the final negotiations for a post-2020 global pact late in the year.  

The European Union has already said it would cut its emissions by at least 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.