In a surprise joint announcement, the U.S. and China on Nov. 12 unveiled a broad range of plans to fight climate change, including new targets to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
The world’s two biggest economies—and two largest emitters of greenhouse gases—have achieved “an historic agreement,” President Barack Obama said at a news conference in Beijing on the final day of a three-day visit to China.
Under the agreement, the U.S. vowed to cut its emissions 26–28% below 2005 levels before 2025. In comparison, the U.S. in 2009 committed to ratchet down its emissions to 17% below 2005 levels by 2020.
Meanwhile, President Xi Jinping of China said his country would “peak,” or begin to taper down, its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. China will also aim to get 20% of its energy from sources that emit zero carbon—which could include solar, wind, and hydropower—by the same year.
The deal represents “a major milestone in the U.S.-China relationship,” Obama declared. “It shows what’s possible when we work together on an urgent global challenge.”
U.S. officials say the commitments, which are the result of months of negotiations, should encourage other countries to set aggressive targets and will inject momentum into talks on a new global climate change treaty. Another round of talks is scheduled for next month in Lima, Peru. Negotiators hope to conclude a global pact in December 2015 at a meeting in Paris.