China, u.s. agree to limit greenhouse gases – the washington post current electricity examples


China’s announcement is the culmination of years of change in attitudes among Chinese now fed up with dire levels of pollution that a study in the British medical journal the Lancet blamed for 1.2 million premature deaths in 2010 alone. China has cap-and-trade pilot programs in five provinces and eight cities. It is also the world’s largest investor in solar and wind energy.

The joint climate announcement could undercut U.S. critics who have said that limiting greenhouse gases is pointless while China refuses to join such efforts. And it could quiet those in China who have argued that carbon emissions should be measured on a per capita basis or by improvements in energy intensity.

“It is imperative that these two countries — the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases — show real leadership. This is an important start,” said Phil Sharp, president of Resources for the Future. “Agreements like this are more important than they might appear at first glance, because in both countries there are political factions that justify inaction by pointing at the failures of the other country.”

Obama administration officials called the climate agreement a “historic step” that came together after months of negotiations, beginning when Secretary of State John F. Kerry raised the subject on a trip to Beijing in February. Obama followed up with a letter to Xi in the spring and met with Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli during the U.N. General Assembly in September. Chinese officials expressed interest in pursuing a deal that could be completed ahead of the ­Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings here this week, administration aides told reporters in a background briefing Wednesday.

Other Republicans joined McConnell in criticizing the deal. Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), who is widely expected to assume the chairmanship of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in January, called the pledges by Obama and Xi “hollow and not believable,” and he suggested that the agreement was tilted in China’s interest.

Around the globe, the pact was widely praised. Leaders of the European Union, which last month pledged a 40 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, said the new commitments by China and the United States provided an important boost to negotiations on a global climate treaty in late 2015.

Earlier, the United States and China reached agreements designed to defuse tensions over international trade and military maneuvers, even as both leaders courted other Asian nations attending the APEC forum in Beijing to join separate trade pacts.

Chinese and American trade negotiators agreed Tuesday to eliminate tariffs on $1 trillion a year of global sales of information and communications technology, including dozens of high-tech products such as GPS devices, medical equipment and game consoles. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman called the deal a “breakthrough” that could boost trade and create jobs.

The APEC summit also has provided a venue for high-level encounters between heads of state. Obama held his first face-to-face conservations with Russian President Vladi­mir Putin since June, seeking to make headway on the conflict in Ukraine, the civil war in Syria and negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. The two leaders spoke three times, for a total of 15 to 20 minutes, on the sidelines of the APEC meetings.