BeijingTuesday, China announced that it will set an absolute cap on its carbon dioxide emissions in 2016, a major step towards fighting global climate change.

This announcement comes one day after U.S. President Barack Obama proposed a sweeping 30 percent cut in carbon emissions from all existing power plants, a move that experts say is no coincidence. China and the U.S. are the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world and its two biggest holdouts where it comes to progressive environmental policy.

America’s position has long been that its energy industry is beholden to no foreign parties, whereas China has stated that, as a developing nation, carbon regulation is unfair to its economy. Before Monday, neither country would commit to greener policies while the other held its ground. But by taking the first step, America has signaled to China that it is committed to reform. Now, China has reciprocated.

The absolute cap will put tight regulation on Chinese carbon emissions, as opposed to a cap that flexes with its economy. The exact limit of that cap has not yet been announced, but it will be set when China’s next five-year-plan goes into action in 2016.

John Connor, CEO of The Climate Institute, told Reuters, “The China-US one is a key trust relationship (in climate talks) and if they are rising above that it sends a very powerful signal to the rest of the world to get serious.”

China has been the biggest CO₂ emitter since 2007, pumping an average of 7 to 9.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per year. Even with the absolute limit, emissions are expected to peak at 11 billion tonnes before 2030. However, by that year China intends to derive 20 to 25 percent of its energy from renewables.

China and the U.S. will join nearly 200 other nations in Bonn, Germany next week for a 10-day round of talks on new international climate standards.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Response

  1. […] is major news for global climate change, as China has been the number one emitter of carbon dioxide since 2007. It burns almost as much coal as the entire world combined and is […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Get the top stories from Planet Experts — right to your inbox every week.

Send this to a friend