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20th Jan 2020

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US and China agree climate deal

  • President Obama - the climate deal has been nine months in the making (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

The US and China on Wednesday (12 November) announced an unexpected climate deal in a move that may ease European industry fears that the EU's climate goals are risking its competitive edge.

At a joint press conference in Beijing, president Barack Obama and president Xi Jinping announced what their countries, the two largest emitters of greenhouse gases, would do to limit climate change.

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The US “intends” to lower its emissions of greenhouse gases by between 26 to 28 percent in 2025, compared to its 2005 level. It will “make best efforts to reduce its emissions by 28%”, according to a White House statement.

China has not set a reduction target, but it “intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to peak early”. It also hopes to achieve a 20 percent share of “non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption” by 2030.

The deal is important for Europe as it raises the hope that an international agreement with binding reduction targets can be reached in Paris in 2015.

EU government leaders decided in October on a plan for greenhouse gas reduction after 2020.

Europe-based companies fear they will be put at a disadvantage if other regions do not follow suit.

“Any rule we adopt in the EU will have consequences if it is not also adopted by other countries like the US”, Patrick Pouyanne, CEO of French oil company Total, said last week in Brussels.

The US-China deal, which came less than a month after the EU announced its post-2020 targets, was about nine months in the making.

The two countries “hope that by announcing these targets now, they can inject momentum into the global climate negotiations”. Next month, negotiators will gather in Lima, as a preparation for the Paris 2015 summit.

The key question is how the pledges will be translated into action.

Since last week, the Republican party have a majority in both houses of the US Congress, with many Republicans opposing strong measures to reduce greenhouse gases.

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Opinion

Merkel's China challenge - distance but engagement

The German chancellor's visit to China starts Thursday. She must signal to Beijing that Europe is serious and united in its newly critical approach to China - and show Washington that there are less destructive ways to deal with differences.

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