Four compelling reasons to be hopeful about the U.S. China Climate Agreement
It is no secret that the United States and China, the two largest national emitters of global carbon emissions, have fallen short in their efforts to address climate change over the past decade. Things, however, just got interesting. Only one week after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its daunting report, leaders of the U.S. and China announced a breakthrough, non-binding bilateral agreement aimed at decreasing carbon emissions over the next several decades. While some critics have been quick to dismiss the importance of the deal, the possible implications of the effort cannot be underestimated. Borrowing from Obama’s quintessential campaign phrase—change—here are four reasons the accord may spur change in the global climate change arena:
The non-binding agreement is a symbolic commitment that illustrates that climate change is a priority issue
In the agreement, among other commitments, the U.S. aims to reduce U.S. emissions by 26%-28% of its 2005 level by 2025. Likewise, China intends to peaks its emissions by 2030. According to scientists and critics alike, these targets merely go a bit beyond or reinstate previously announced targets made domestically by the two leaders. Nevertheless, even if the commitments recycle or marginally exceed existing commitments the US and China have made domestically, the effort is symbolic of the two powers willingness to move the ball forward and find commonalties that were not previously known.