China and US striking ‘game changing’ climate deal dismantling excuses for inaction around the globe


China and the United States pushed their collaboration on tackling climate change even further today, announcing a wide ranging agreement that is being called a “game changer.”  As part of the deal, China will launch the world’s biggest carbon market in 2017. The country’s cap and trade system will use market forces to reduce emissions from power generation, steel, cement, and other key industrial sectors. China’s announcements complement the recent American Clean Power Plan, which will reduce emissions in the U.S. power sector by 32 per cent by 2030. China also pledged US$3.1 billion in climate finance to help poorer nations transition away from fossil fuels, essentially matching the US’s $3 billion commitment to the Green Climate Fund last year. Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama also outlined their, “common vision for a new global climate agreement to be reached in Paris this December” that “ramps-up ambition over time.” Among other plans, both nations – the world’s two largest economies and polluters – agreed to take serious steps to cut emissions by focusing on cities, transportation, methane and through a continued emphasis on embracing technology. These announcements, combined with Pope Francis’ strong environmental remarks in Washington and at the UN General Assembly add another shot of momentum towards securing a climate agreement in Paris this December that will put the world on a pathway to a 100 per cent renewable future.  


Key Points

  • This latest agreement between the US and China shows the game has changed and both nations are serious players when it comes to leading on climate change. China’s commitments are real, and so are the American ones. Not only do both nations have clear plans for slashing their dangerous carbon emissions, their plans also include real mechanisms for assisting those outside their borders who are impacted by climate change.
  • Momentum towards the Paris climate meetings is building thanks to commitments from the world’s two largest economies and polluters. The official word from the White House couldn’t be more clear: the US and China share a “common vision for a new global climate agreement to be reached in Paris this December.” As President Obama said during a joint press conference with President Xi, “When the world’s two largest economies, energy consumers and carbon emitters can agree on committing to climate action, there’s no reason for other nations, developing or developed to not take action.”
  • The commitments from the US and China are bold, and achieving them is now clearly outlined. China’s cap and trade program, to be launched in 2017, will be the largest carbon market in the world and will feed into its plans for reducing its dirty coal consumption by 2030. The US Clean Power Plan also targets 2030, aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent by that date. These real commitments help clear the path for a 100 per cent transition to renewable energy.
  • The US and China are putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to climate change. The $3 billion dollars the US has committed to aid poor nations dealing with the impacts of climate change though the Green Climate Fund and the $3 billion China committed to a similarly intended fund shows these nations aren’t just talking the talk, but walking the walk.



Tools and Resources


  • “This should put an end, once and for all, to the claim that the United States is ‘going it alone’ and China is not doing its fair share. That assertion has never been true and it’s even less supportable today. – Ken Kimmel, President of the Union of Concerned Scientists
  • “The set of new domestic policies announced by President Xi should put to rest any concerns that China isn’t totally committed to systematically cutting its emissions, and the cooperative initiatives to reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and from buildings and appliances show that the world’s two largest emitters are intensifying efforts to meet the economy-wide commitments they announced last November.” – Alden Meyer, Director of Strategy and Policy Union of Concerned Scientists
  • “As you know, public money leverages private money and is an indicator of confidence in a project. While it looks like China will have larger loopholes than the US policy, this is HUGE.” – Nicole Ghio, Sierra Club International Representative
  • “With this deal, it’s clear China is ready to lead on climate. The old political excuses for inaction in Washington have become irrelevant. On the wave of moral inspiration after the Pope’s visit, US politicians should raise the level of their ambition.” – Li Shuo, Greenpeace East Asia Senior Climate Policy Analyst
  • “This is strong medicine. China is promising decisive action to cut carbon pollution at its source and to help replace dirty fossil fuels with clean energy, at home and abroad. It lies to rest the flawed argument that Chinese pollution is an excuse for U.S. inaction. And it sends a powerful signal that China will join other countries in the global fight against this worldwide threat, setting the table for an effective international climate agreement later this year in Paris.” – Rhea Suh, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council
  • “China’s announcement is the perfect capstone for an inspiring week in the cause for climate action.” – Margie Alt, Environment America
  • “This historic agreement is a concrete commitment from China to address carbon pollution and climate change. This plan to limit and put a price on carbon pollution and other climate pollution well positions China to take advantage of the opportunity created as economies move away from fossil fuels and develop cleaner sources of energy. With China’s commitment, opponents of climate action here in the U.S. are running out of excuses, unfortunately not as quickly as the earth is running out of time.” – Carol M. Browner, Former Environmental Protection Agency administrator and former White House Office on Energy and Climate Change Policy director
  • “This is another reason for climate hope: the world’s two largest emitters are now working together to move the world away from fossil fuels. This creates more momentum for a deal in Paris that can set the world on the path to 100% renewable energy. Now, the US, China, and other rich countries need to pick up the pace.” – Jamie Henn, Strategy Director


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