Joint US-China Climate Announcement a Game Changer

U.S. and China Standing Shoulder to Shoulder to Address Looming Threat Bodes Well for a Comprehensive International Agreement in December

Published Sep 25, 2015

Washington (September 25, 2015) — Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Obama today issued a joint statement outlining a common vision for the Paris climate agreement, a set of new domestic policy announcements — including commitments by China to implement a nationwide cap-and-trade system by 2017 and a grid dispatch system that favors low-carbon sources — and several initiatives on climate finance, including a $3.1 billion commitment by China to help developing countries combat climate change. The two leaders also announced joint commitments to implement stronger fuel-efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles, stronger efficiency standards for buildings, and to work together to mobilize international support for clean energy development in developing countries.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) welcomed the announcement, stressing how important it is for the top two carbon-emitting nations to set an example in advance of the U.N. climate meeting in Paris in December. Below are statements by UCS President Ken Kimmel and UCS Director of Strategy and Policy Alden Meyer.

UCS President Ken Kimmell

“This should put an end, once and for all, to the claim that the United States is ‘going it alone’ and China is not doing its fair share. That assertion has never been true and it’s even less supportable today.

“There is no doubt that we have to act. The wildfire season is more than two months longer than it was in the early 1970s, a drought is crippling California, and tidal flooding events are threatening to make parts of some East Coast waterfronts unusable. Clearly, action by the two countries that currently emit the greatest amounts of heat-trapping gases is critical, and this new agreement is a very welcome development.”

UCS Director of Strategy and Policy Alden Meyer

“The joint announcement by President Obama and President Xi adds momentum to the drive for a comprehensive and ambitious climate agreement in Paris this December. By pledging to work together for a low-carbon transformation of the global economy, an enhanced transparency and reporting system, increased financial support for mitigation and adaptation activities, and expanded research and development of clean energy technologies, the United States and China are helping to identify possible landing zones for some of the most difficult issues that need to be resolved in Paris. 

“The set of new domestic policies announced by President Xi should put to rest any concerns that China isn’t totally committed to systematically cutting its emissions, and the cooperative initiatives to reduce emissions from heavy-duty vehicles and from buildings and appliances show that the world’s two largest emitters are intensifying efforts to meet the economy-wide commitments they announced last November. While much more work remains to be done in the months and years ahead if we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, today’s announcement is a very hopeful sign.”