President Barack Obama and Chinese president Xi Jinping same to a landmark agreement earlier today when both countries agreed to jointly curb carbon emissions, reported The Washington Post.
Both China and the United States are the world’s largest producers of carbon-based emissions, the leading cause of climate change and global warming. President Obama announced the United States’ target as reducing the country’s carbon emissions from 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2025.
“We have a responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change,” said Obama during the announcement. “Today, I am proud we can announce a historic agreement.”
Obama and Xi have been working out the deal quietly over the last nine months and “could galvanize efforts to negotiate a new global climate agreement by 2015,” according to the New York Times. China said that it would cap its carbon emissions by 2030 and increase the share of non-fossil fuel to 20 percent by that same time.
Both leaders acknowledged that the goals were steep but still within reach. For China to reach its goal, the country must add anywhere from 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of alternative energy: nuclear, wind, and solar. Obama’s main plan in America is to first cut the carbon emissions from the country’s factories. However, he will be staring into the faces of obstructionist, climate-denying Republicans.
Republican naysayers have already begun to chime in: “This unrealistic plan, that the president would dump on his successor, would ensure higher utility rates and far fewer jobs,” said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The Washington Post also reported that Sen. James Inhofe, projected to lead the Senate Environment and Public Work Committee, said the deal was “hollow and not believable.”
Regardless of whether each country achieves their goals within the allotted time, the arrangement between the U.S. and China is seen by many as a giant step for the international relations between America and China.
“The United States and China have often been seen as antagonists,” said one senior official. “We hope that this announcement can usher in a new day in which China and the U.S. can act much more as partners.”
Despite the hideous Republican camp jeering at the deal, it was otherwise heralded by many international leaders. Leaders in the European Union agreed last month to cut carbon emissions in their respective countries 40 percent by 2030.
Senior Editor of Motherboard, Brian Merchant, succinctly outlined why this deal is important domestically and internationally. First, it “commits China to on-paper cuts,” given that both countries hold up their end of the deal. Second, it creates a clear path for America to drastically reduce its overall emissions output, 80 percent by 2050. And last, it creates the atmosphere for a large-scale, worldwide conversation about climate change.
If this deal goes off without a hitch and can bring dozens of countries together to create a worldwide dialogue about climate change, that’s a huge win for foreign relations, as well as the planet. It seems that the only thing that would try to sour it and rob it of all its potential is the Republican party.