11 July, 2013

U.S. and China agree on action to curb carbon emissions

The  governments of the world’s top two greenhouse gases emitters, United States and China, agreed Wednesday to tighten pollution standards on heavy trucks, increase energy efficiency in transport, buildings and industry, and a number of other initiatives to curb greenhouse-gas emissions.

The five new action initiatives aiming at reducing carbon emissions may also somehow positively influence multilateral negotiations aiming at reaching a new global climate change agreement by 2015, under the Climate Convention (UNFCCC). The U.S. and China have confronted each other on several issues regarding a new global climate accord since the Copenhagen Summit, and have also been key actors, often on diverging sides, in Cancún, and Durban. U. S. top climate negotiator, Todd Stern said that “China and the U.S. are the two most important players. We are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. . . It is not suddenly going to transform the negotiation, but it will project something positive.”

The most debatable item of the agreement is the one related to increasing carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), an unproven technological way to the clean use of coal. Usually promises regarding CCSUS are nothing but an alibi for the continuing use of coal.

Below the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group Fact Sheet release by the State Department. The full joint-report will be available this afternoon.

U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group Fact Sheet

The United States and China have agreed to five new action initiatives with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution by tackling the largest sources of emissions in both countries. These initiatives were developed by the U.S.-China Working Group on Climate Change and presented in a Report agreed to by Leaders’ Special Representatives at the Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

The Working Group was established pursuant to the Joint Statement on Climate Change issued on April 13, 2013 during Secretary Kerry’s first trip to China and is intended to spur large-scale, cooperative efforts to address the climate challenge, including deepening and expanding work already underway. The Working Group’s Report was prepared mindful of the overwhelming scientific consensus about anthropogenic climate change and its worsening impacts, as well as the urgent need to intensify global efforts to combat climate change. Ambitious domestic and cooperative action by China and the United States is more critical than ever.

Working closely with private sector and non-governmental stakeholders, the Working Group will develop implementation plans for the following initiatives by October 2013:

  • Reducing emissions from heavy-duty and other vehicles: Heavy-duty vehicles are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions from transportation in the United States and account for more than half of transportation fuel consumed in China. Light-duty vehicles also contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, fuel use and air pollution. Efforts under this initiative will include advancing comprehensive policies to reduce CO2 and black carbon emissions through: enhanced heavy-duty fuel efficiency standards; cleaner fuels and vehicle emissions control technologies; and more efficient, clean freight.
  • Increasing carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS): Together, the United States and China account for more than 40 percent of global coal consumption. Emissions from coal combustion in the electric power and industrial sectors can be significantly reduced through CCUS. China and the United States will cooperate to overcome barriers to deploying CCUS by implementing several large-scale, integrated CCUS projects in both countries. These demonstrations will engage companies in both countries and allow for enhanced trade and commerce.
  • Increasing energy efficiency in buildings, industry, and transport: The United States and China recognize that there is significant scope for reducing emissions and reducing costs through comprehensive efforts to improve energy efficiency. Both sides commit to intensify their efforts, with an initial focus on promoting the energy efficiency of buildings, which account for over 30 percent of energy use in both countries, including through the use of innovative financing models.
  • Improving greenhouse gas data collection and management: Both countries place a high priority on comprehensive, accurate reporting of economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions data to track progress in reducing emissions and to develop and implement mitigation policies. The United States will work with China to build capacity for collection and management of greenhouse gas emissions data, a critical foundation for smart climate change policies in both countries.
  • Promoting smart grids: The power sector accounts for over one third of U.S. and Chinese carbon emissions. To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector and put in place a resilient, low-carbon power grid, both countries are developing modern, “smart” grid systems, deploying renewable and clean energy, and improving demand management. The U.S. and China will collaborate on building smart grids that are more resilient, more efficient, and can incorporate more renewable energy and distributed generation.

These initiatives, and others the Working Group will develop, demonstrate the commitment of both countries to combat climate change and complement domestic efforts, including President Obama’s recently announced Climate Action Plan.

Enhanced Policy Dialogues

Recognizing the importance of working through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United States and China are committed to enhancing our policy dialogue on all aspects of the future agreement.

The Working Group will work to implement the agreement on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) reached by President Obama and President Xi at their meeting on June 8, 2013, in Sunnylands, California.

The Working Group will also strengthen the bilateral dialogue on domestic climate policy to enhance mutual understanding of and confidence in each others’ measures.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,