Sep 28


Today China and the US accelerated their ongoing bilateral efforts to tackle climate change and invest in clean energy with a raft of new joint-agreements, including the official announcement that China will launch the world’s biggest carbon market in 2017.

During President Xi Jinping’s first State visit to the US where he met with President Obama, the leaders of the two biggest emitting economies in the world publicly stated that climate change is one of humanity’s biggest threats – and that both countries have a significant part to play in moving the world to a low carbon future.

Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group, said: “The US and China are jointly taking the high ground with this new announcement. Their own respective domestic targets, and bilateral collaboration around sub-national policies, clean technology research and development and future energy generation, send positive signals and add further momentum to the upcoming negotiations in Paris. This collaboration also lays a solid foundation for enhanced clean technology innovation and other smart low carbon solutions around infrastructure.

“To a certain extent, I see this moment, mid-way through Climate Week NYC and 10 weeks from Paris, as the highlight of the global sustainable development and climate change agenda. Political will, religious guidance such as that seen by Pope Francis today, sub-national government commitments, ongoing business leadership and civil society participation are now hurtling together for a safer, cleaner future for all.”

As part of the deal, China is set to launch the world’s biggest carbon market in 2017, which will slash emissions from key industrial sectors.

Last month the US also finalized its Clean Power Plan, which will cut emissions from the power sector to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.

In an official statement, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama outlined their “Vision for the Paris Climate Conference”, which includes:

  • Reaffirmation of the US-China Joint Announcement on Climate Change to adopt a legal deal to keep global temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius, which reflects the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities – with a system that provides flexibility to developing countries “in light of their capacities”.
  • Welcoming of the enhanced actions that have been reflected in countries’ national climate plans, or INDCs.
  • Joint support of a global transition to a low carbon economy.
  • Renewed focus on adaptation to build resilience and reduce vulnerability.

China is currently aiming to cut carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60% to 65% from 2005 levels by 2030, and for 50% of new buildings in cities and towns to be low carbon by 2020.

Writing in a blog ahead of President Xi Jinping’s US visit earlier this week, Changhua Wu said: “US-China bilateral partnership sends the world a clear signal that the global economy will be smart, more prosperous and sustainable, because the two largest economies are now jointly taking the lead.

“As a commentator of current affairs in sustainable development, I feel encouraged and inspired by what is unfolding in China. I feel obligated to support the leadership to explore the new business model of sustainable development, beyond Paris.”