Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

China And U.S., Titans Of Carbon Pollution, Move To Cut Gases

Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Obama, seen here during a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, announced pledges to reduce greenhouse gases.
HUANG JINGWEN Xinhua /Landov
Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Obama, seen here during a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, announced pledges to reduce greenhouse gases.

China And U.S., Titans Of Carbon Pollution, Move To Cut Gases

President Obama says the U.S. will sharply cut its emissions of greenhouse gases, announcing a new approach to climate change alongside Chinese President Xi Jinping. The plan also includes China's agreement to cap its emissions.

Advertisement

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.

"This is an ambitious goal, but it's an achievable goal," Obama said. "It will double the pace at which we're reducing carbon pollution in the United States. It puts us on a path to achieving the deep emissions reductions by advanced economies that the scientific community says is necessary to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change."

Here's how the White House describes the changes:

"The United States intends to achieve an economy-wide target of reducing its emissions by 26 percent - 28 percent below its 2005 level in 2025 and to make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28 percent. "China intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and 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."

Other plans include one initiative that aims to reduce pollution by cities, and another that encourages trade in "green goods" and environmentally clean technology.

Advertisement

Obama and Xi unveiled the plan at the end of the APEC conference in Beijing, where negotiators from both countries met to hammer out a deal.

China and the U.S. are the top two producers of carbon emissions in the world, accounting for more than a third of all greenhouse gases – and making it vital that any broad agreement on climate change include the pair. In that light, the new plan is also as an attempt to build momentum toward next year's global climate meeting slated for Paris next year.

As for what it will take to reach the goals, "In China, it's going to require a huge investment in clean energy." says NPR's Scott Horsley, reporting from Beijing for Morning Edition.

Scott adds, "By 2030, China wants to be getting 20 percent of its energy from non-polluting sources. And when you look at the growth of energy consumption om this country, that's a lot of windmills and solar panels."

The U.S. plan will rely on speeding up a process that is already underway, Scott says.

"The White House thinks the U.S. can meet these targets without new legislation," he says. "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."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.